Holiday Shopping Spirals Out of Control

Anna Albergo, Editor-in-Chief

A brand new pair of jeans for 50% off, a new version of your watch that is $100 cheaper than normal and a limited offer of a buy one get one free body lotion. These items have one thing in common: you do not need them. That’s right, the prices are tempting but there is no real need for you to buy these items, especially since you are about to be gifted a whole new collection of items for the holidays. Black Friday through Cyber Monday showcases arguably the best deals of the year. While there is nothing wrong with stores knocking down prices, customers should take advantage of cheaper prices to buy gifts for others rather than using the cheaper prices as a justification for spending more money on themselves.

The weekend following Thanksgiving, beginning on Black Friday, is the kickstart to the holiday season for many. While it is a once-a-year occurrence, there is no need for holiday shopping to take over your life. In recent years, stores have been displaying holiday products beginning in October, opening on Thanksgiving Day and extending December hours to 24 hours per day. These measures are not necessary and make it easy for uncontrolled shoppers to shift the focus to themselves rather than their friends and family.

The behavior of stores during the holidays are clearly intended to maximize profits despite their promises that the customers are their interest.  Customers easily give in to the behaviors of stores such as extra hours and sales that encourage them to buy more than they need. These behaviors demonstrated by retailers almost always result in customers going beyond the purchases required for gift giving by adding items to the cart for themselves.

In order to fix the problem, stores should create policies to scale back the intense and competitive nature of holiday shopping. Some stores such as Target, have begun to take such measures. Target announced prior to the Thanksgiving holiday this year that they would not be opening on Thanksgiving Day this year or any year in the near future. 

More stores need to follow in Target’s footsteps to get American holiday shopping under control. But if more stores don’t get it together for next year’s holiday season, there are things you can do to help yourself. You can start by making your list early to ensure that you don’t let the timely motives of retailers empty your pockets. If you identify what you actually need and ask for it, you won’t be searching for ideas while simultaneously giving in to sales and discounts. If you still find yourself in the situation where you feel you need to buy yourself something, remind yourself that the focus of holiday shopping should be gift giving.