Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Christmas: Andy Parks DOES Keep It All The Year!

Andy Parks, from the UK, was bored to death when in the summer of 1994 he found that hanging up Christmas decorations stopped him from feeling bored.

Since then he’s been celebrating Christmas every single day for the last 40 years.

That includes enjoying a full festive dinner, all trimmings included, and watching the Queen’s speech — everyday.

In that time he has eaten 117,600 sprouts and 94,080 mince pies.

“I’ve opened 204,400 crackers.

I’ve been through 37 electric ovens and worn out 23 video recorders by watching the Queen’s Speech every day.

I’ve also sent myself 235,206 Christmas cards. But these days the postage is so dear I’m having to deliver them myself.

The credit crunch is getting to me big time and I may have to cut out the champagne and start singing for my Christmas dinner.

The lunch with all the trimmings and alcohol is costing in excess of £150 ($230) a week, but I’m fighting hard not to let the financial crisis ruin the celebrations.

People do think I’m crackers, but I enjoy treating myself and I’m the only one in the world who does it.

Others have tried to copy me, but they can’t last.

When people come to my house it turns a sad face into a smiling one, and the happiness stays with them.”
— Andy Parks aka Mr. Christms

Other ways in which Andy tries to maintain his Christmas routine during this recession is by cutting the 14 pound turkey down to a 9 pound turkey, and by going from two trees to just one.

At the same time he’s trying to save the money needed to pay for a Christmas themed funeral. As part of that ritual he would be buried in a coffin filled with brussels sprouts…

U.S. Consumers Expect to Spend 11% Less on Christmas Gifts

Households across the U.S. plan to fork out about $418, on average, for gifts during Christmas season 2008; this figure, according to The Conference Board, is 11.3 percent lower than in 2007.

The Conference Board’s survey of Christmas gift spending found that consumers are in a cost-conscious mood. Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s consumer research center, said, “This is shaping up to be one of the most challenging holiday seasons in years, and it’s going to take more than the usual discounts and incentives from retailers to get consumers to spend more freely.”

By region, the survey found that those in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin intend to spend the most, with an average of $550. The lowest range, with a household average of $330, came from the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Twenty-seven percent of all households plan to spend $500 or more on Christmas gifts, down from 33 percent in this category during 2007. Thirty-seven percent plan to spend between $200 and $500, and 35 percent are planning to spend less than $200.

The Conference Board found that 39 percent of all consumers plan to buy Christmas gifts online. Jewelry as a gift category was named by 10.1 percent of consumers who intend to purchase online. The most popular gifts, cited by 37.9 percent of survey respondents, were books, followed by toys/games, apparel, movies/DVDs and music.

Frugal German Shoppers Get More Frugal

The survey in Germany, performed by the magazine Stern, shows that one in three Germans will spend less money this year on Christmas gifts than in previous years.

The numbers are an indicator that the financial crisis is hitting hard in Europe: Germans are considered frugal shoppers already.

On the other hand, a little bit over half of the Germans set it there will spend about the same amount of money or more than in 2007.

Taking the average of the poll most people will spend around 300 euro (around US$375).

Still, a good quarter of those surveyed said that they will spend hundred Euro or less.

Germany is considered the world’s third-biggest economy while numbers released last week show that Germany has slipped into a recession for the first time in five years.

Even Toytown is feeling the crunch this Christmas

In the UK too we have just 67 days to go until Christmas. That statistic is as likely to shrink as the revenue retailers will be able to squeeze from Christmas this year.

The Toy Retailers Association (TRA) launched Christmas shopping season officially this week with “Dream Toys”. The annual industry event showcases what they hope will be this year’s bestsellers. Among them, a Star Wars Trooper Helmet with preprogrammed messages. Retailing at $60 each sellers hope expect to be selling them by the truckload.

In fact, little complaining was to be heard; sellers were as cheerful as possible. Many insisted mom and dad will still want to buy their kids toys and that all the shops will have to do is make sure enough items are within financial reach.

Still, this is not Christmas 2007, when the mortgage crisis was mainly a USA thing, and not a Christmas 2006 at all either. Spending by the bucket load is out, at least for now, and frugal common sense has entered both lives and language.

Many retailers were talking for example about “cost per play” to try to express the value and worth of a product.

Then again, the past 5 years every year has been predicted as the worst Christmas selling season ever. And each turned out to be pretty good.

So what about this one?

“‘This Christmas is going to be the worst retailers have experienced in modern times. The past five years have been forecast as the “worst ever” and that hasn’t been the case; this year it will be. What is going on in the real economy is affecting every household in the country. Spending power is substantially diminished and that is going to be reflected in retail sales.”
Richard Hyman, retail analyst

Based on consumer surveys it’s expected that, in the UK, consumers will spend 6% more than they did last year. But that figure of about $1200 isn’t for toy sellers only. The breakdown is along the lines of roughly $600 gifts, $300 on food and $250 on socialising. Joy of Christmas predicts that’s pretty high for a lot of families out there.

Based on frugal patterns food is expected to be doing very well. It’s needed, no way around it, and at the same buck you get and a treat and good food.

Books, music and movies likewise are expected to be doing well in the UK. There’s a lot of new material coming out in the Christmas period. Also, the overall longtime worth of these items is perceived as very high.

What helps these sales is that as people curtail their spending from high end items and dining out to more frugal matters, staying at home with a good book or movie is seen as inexpensive pleasure.

“The book industry is reasonably optimistic about the outlook.

Books are a recession favourite because they are a good gift and don’t break; also the demise of the Net Book Agreement means they are cheaper than during the last recession. You can buy a book for £3.79 (USD $6.50) from Asda, which is less than a pint of bitter.”
Neill Denny, editor-in-chief of The Bookseller

In yet another annually recurring prediction the web is set to strike gold. Amazon UK expects their biggest Christmas ever, going head-to-head with main street in selling blockbuster DVD’s such as Batman The Dark Knight and the Abba musical Mamma Mia.

Oddly enough bargain hunters will be less well served as past years. The ample warning retailers have had of a slowing economy which then crashed and is now considered to be in a recession means they have bought less stock. Some “SALE!” activity is expected just before and after the holidays but full price will be the principle deal.