By Lisa A. Flam, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Gift givers are getting ready to cut.
Against the backdrop of record high unemployment and other financial struggles, people are taking out their holiday gifts lists and finding themselves having to cross off friends, relatives and co-workers this year.
"Like the rest of the world, this economy has me cutting almost everyone off the gift list," said Trish Bonsall, who lost her job as a sales manager for a new home builder in June. "In the past, it was a very long list. This year, we're cutting it drastically."
For Bonsall, 51, of Charlotte, N.C., that means losing all but about six people — her four sons and their significant others — from her list of 35.
"Christmas is my favorite season. I like to buy presents," she said. "It hurts."
A survey earlier this fall by market research company NPD Group found that 27% of people said they would cut their personal or business lists this year. But when gift comes to shove, not everybody can go through with it. Marshal Cohen, NPD's chief industry analyst, expects about 19% will trim the list.Still, it's the first time in the five years the question has been asked that the number has topped 10%. It's usually 5%- 8%.
"Every year, the consumer's gift list got longer and longer and, during affluent times, you didn't think anything of adding people to the list," Cohen said. "Now, with consumers having to be frugal, the list is not only getting checked twice, but cut twice."
While it may be a relief not to have to buy for a family friend or your book club, breaking up with a gift giver can be hard to do. To avoid hurt feelings and awkward situations, experts advise, be kind and tell the truth.
"Be honest, and say, 'Times are tight this year and I'm having to cut back. Do you mind if we don't do gifts?'" said Peggy Post, director of the Emily Post Institute.
And don't wait too long. "Do it early" so your friend doesn't buy you a present before you break the news, Post said.