Big Spenders

Ready or not, it’s that time again. It took only a nanosecond to replace the scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns with red and green lights and frosted trees in the holiday display case. Is it me, or do stores begin holiday promotions earlier every year?

It must be working. The Consumer Electronics Association reported last month that consumer electronics alone will generate a staggering $48.1 billion in sales in this quarter as electronics dominate wish lists of adults and teens alike. Some $22.1 billion will be spent on holiday gifts, or 46% of total consumer electronics revenue for the quarter, the association says.

CEA expects electronics to account for 22% of all gifts given, with CE devices occupying two of the top five items on adults’ lists and four of the top five on teens’ lists.

For adults, computers are one step ahead of peace and happiness, followed by a big screen TV, clothes and money. Wide screen TVs moved up to the third spot from No. 11 last year.

The teen list, however, remains unchanged since 2006: clothes, MP3 players, video games, computers, and cellphones. Both groups also expressed interest in notebooks/laptops and digital cameras.

The average gift giver will spend $358 on electronics this holiday season, CEA says.

The Wall Street Journal said, however, that consumers will show more restraint when it comes to buying items for themselves, as the price of crude oil reaches a record $100 per barrel. The WSJ said shoppers “may repeat the kind of procrastinating that delayed back-to-school sales.”

However, it also said the National Retail Federation expects U.S. retail sales to increase 4% compared to the prior holiday season.

It’s not just teens and adults clamoring for electronics this December. CNNMoney.com finds toy companies battling the likes of Sony and Nintendo for top billing among pre-teens.

“About 25 million kids ranging from newborns to 5-year-olds received electronic toys as gifts in the 12 months ending July, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, often at their own request,” CNNMoney said.

What does all this mean? Get out your wallet. That little rectangular piece of plastic keeping you from retiring is calling your family’s names.

Or, maybe, like the Whos down in Whoville [How the Grinch Stole Christmas], you remember what holidays are all about: spending time with the ones you love and appreciating those who make a difference, big or small, in your life. Yes, flatscreen LCDs and iPods are great, but sometimes, when I’m stuck in Christmas traffic and stress begins balling up in my gut, I sadly realize we have forgotten that retail isn’t supposed to run the show, even though it often does. Like the CEA survey shows, your new Mac or PC comes before harmony and joy. Where have our priorities gone?

1 thought on “Big Spenders

  1. Consumerism has become the State Religion of Free Enterprise and, like any other religion, has adopted the celebrations of older faith traditions. This will earn boos from Readers, but the manner in which we celebrate all our major holidays not only favors this position, it is completely consistent with your article’s observations. From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to Montgomery-Ward’s “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”, ’tis the season sponsored by your local Fashion, Home Goods and, yes, Electronics retailers. To One and All: A Happy iHoliday!

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