Big Holiday Shopping Trends of 2009

  • What will tomorrow bring?

    Are Americans going to be spending big this holiday season or will they be cutting back? What kind of stuff will they buy? And how will they finance their purchases? Here are 10 big picture issues to keep an eye on throughout this year’s holiday season. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    The R-word
  • The R-word

    Citing a recent survey, the National Retail Federation wrote on its blog that “Americans will not believe the recession is over until they see a reduction in unemployment. So, while an increase in stock market activity might be great news for high-end retailers, it’s not helping retailers who cater to Middle America.” Of course, the economy would improve if everyone would start buying more stuff, but consumers won’t gain the confidence to buy more until they have secure, well-paying jobs. Catch-22. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Outlandishly cheap HDTVs
  • Outlandishly cheap HDTVs

    High-definition flat-screen televisions, once the province of science-fiction movies and very wealthy people, are now available for everyone — and what better way to wait out the depressing job market than in front of a TV with awesome digital picture quality? As we have reported, Wal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT) is offering a mammoth 50” Sanyo HDTV for less than $600. Check out these and other crazy HDTV deals here. Photo Credit: Walmart.com
    Other ridiculously tempting sales
  • Other ridiculously tempting sales

    It was reported that Target (Stock Quote: TGT) will be offering $3 kitchen appliances. Yes, three bucks. The big retailers seem to be pulling out all the stops this holiday season to lure a wary, recession-worn public into their stores. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Demise of the post office?
  • Demise of the post office?

    The U.S. Postal Service reported a staggering $3.8 billion loss for the 2009 fiscal year, the third consecutive year it has lost billions. With the rise of e-mail in the past decade, and considering the shaky economic climate, it isn’t certain how the postal service will boost its business. If the holiday season turns out to be a surprise boom, it could mean a lot of gift packages getting shipped around the country. If it turns out to be a mediocre season, well, that could spell even more trouble for the nation’s mail carrier. Photo Credit: thetruthabout
    Burn your books
  • Burn your books

    Online book retail powerhouse Amazon.com, in addition to brick-and-mortar bookstore giant Barnes & Noble, are each doing heavy pushes this holiday season for their respective e-book readers. Barnes & Noble has in-store information kiosks and representatives for its reader, the Nook, and its hard to spend more than a few seconds on Amazon.com without seeing some kind of prominent promotion for its Kindle device. Photo Credit: aprilzosia
    New ways to pay
  • New ways to pay

    The credit crunch meant millions of Americans saw interest rate hikes on their credit card accounts — which may deter them from spending as much this holiday season as in previous years. According to the National Retail Federation’s blog, this increase in interest rates “is an expenditure that Americans don’t like, many can’t accommodate, and most weren’t expecting. But this move is another reason why many may shy away from credit cards and could bode well for retailers who offer layaway.” Oh, that’s right, layaway is back on the streets. Some big retailers like Kmart (Stock Quote: SHLD) are offering it, allowing customers to pay for items over time as opposed to all at once. Respect. But will layaway be enough to convince consumers to buy something they otherwise don’t think they can safely afford? Only time will tell. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Even more radical changes in payments?
  • Even more radical changes in payments?

    As reported by our sister site TheStreet.com, American Express (Stock Quote: AXP) recently “agreed to acquire secure Internet payment platform Revolution Money for $300 million.” The next-generation payment system uses cards without signatures, account names or account numbers — a move designed to reduce fraud. Also, as consumers learn to cope with slashed credit limits, it is entirely reasonable to predict that debit card usage will become more commonplace — forcing shoppers to spend only as much as they have in the bank. And this means consumers will be less likely to splurge on something like a 50" TV, unless it’s that freakishly cheap $600 one at Wal-Mart. Photo Credit: Peter Hellberg
    More travel, but less of it by air
  • More travel, but less of it by air

    As recently reported by the Associated Press, auto organization AAA “is projecting a 1.4% increase in Thanksgiving travel this year, although fewer people will travel by air due to budget concerns, reduced airline capacity and added charges.” So, one can reasonably expect that I-95 trip down to Florida for Thanksgiving break to be more congested than usual. Photo Credit: nrbelex
    Newfound corporate generosity?
  • Newfound corporate generosity?

    Some in the media are skeptical about Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs’ newfound sense of ethics. The firm recently pledged $500 million in assistance to small businesses, and it wouldn’t be entirely crazy to expect an ensuing PR push this holiday season — heartwarming commercials and print adverts — letting us know that Goldman has our best interests at heart. As CNN Money explained, “Goldman is facing a populist backlash because it was one of the original nine firms to receive bailout funds last fall." It would be nice if the rest of the big banks started lending again. As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently told the Economic Club of New York, "Access to credit remains strained for borrowers who are particularly dependent on banks, such as households and small businesses ... Small businesses have seen their bank credit lines reduced or eliminated, or they have been able to obtain credit only on significantly more restrictive terms.” Could have something to do with our continually rising unemployment rate. Photo Credit: laverrue
    Gift cards remain a popular option
  • Gift cards remain a popular option

    Gift card sales may be lower than last year overall, but they remain an easy and popular option for last-minute gift buyers. "With projected holiday sales of gift cards in 2008 reaching nearly $25 billion, the cards are hot commodities these days. Retailers of all shapes and sizes are now selling gift cards, and not only their own: shoppers can get gift cards from department store, specialty apparel, restaurants, electronic stores and home improvement stores at local drug stores or supermarkets," says the NRF. I've always been a big fan of gift cards, so I suppose I'm ahead of the pack. Although I like cold, hard cash — in an envelope, with or without a holiday card — even more. Call me sentimental. Photo Credit: exalthim
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