As holiday shopping reaches the home stretch, consumers who are far removed from the silver-plated boutiques of Madison Avenue and Rodeo Drive say they are holding down their spending for the season...
C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group in Charleston, S.C., said that low- and middle-income shoppers across the country have been telling pollsters that stores have not done enough to put them in the mood to buy; shoppers have criticized stores' decorations as flimsy and the merchandise as boring.
Mr. Beemer agrees. "I have surveyed a number of store display managers" who have complained about budget cutbacks, he said. Consumers also report that their children are not pining for a "must have" toy this year - because, he said, there isn't one.
Yet all indications are that broad-based consumer spending remains strong. Economists pointed to last week's Commerce Department report, which suggested that overall spending is likely to rise by a solid 4 percent on top of an inflation rate of roughly 3 percent for the fourth quarter.
The idea that we need this media-inspired consumer frenzy to spend, spend, spend is absurd.
I don't mind Christmas as a time to give gifts- think it's great. But in any large family, such as mine, you learn to appreciate disarmament.