This year, with nationwide unemployment hovering around the 10-percent mark, people are feeling more Scrooge than Santa these days. People want comfort and joy this time around, not the pressure to shop until they drop.
That’s according to an Associated Press news story. And in my opinion, it’s at least one good thing about the bad economy. Instead of Christmas becoming some sort of horse race to spend without thought to consequence, maybe there will be more focus on the season being about memories and togetherness? When you’re worried about paying the heat bill, blowing a wad on stocking-stuffers is more oh-no than ho-ho-ho.
“When the world feels upside down, you don’t want your tree to be,” says Kit Yarrow, professor of consumer psychology at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
“Nostalgia is a way for people to feel safe,” Yarrow adds.
Yarrow is referring to last year’s trends, when, according to AP, whimsy was more dominant, with the upside-down Christmas tree fad, cowboy and mermaid ornaments, and unusual color schemes such as purple and brown. That was trendy, and it’s now supposed to be on its way out.
With the economy continuing to struggle, stores are going for less flash and more of the familiar this holiday season. AP reports that retailers are “turning back the clock” this year, in an effort to draw cautious consumers to stores. And merchants are hoping the return to tradition makes cash registers jingle, because holiday sales can make up almost half of many merchants’ bottom lines.
So what will be coming to a mall near you? Traditional colors such as red, green and gold and feel-good touches, including gingerbread houses, classic ornaments and more boughs decked with holly rather than hot pink feathers.
Along the lines of feeling safe is spending wisely. “It’s not just fashionable to spend a lot of money for Christmas, or for anything,” says Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo. “It is fashionable to live within your means.”
That’s one trend I can get behind! And frankly, I’d rather have a friend who can afford to go to lunch or see a movie with me instead of one being broke from overdoing gift-shopping. A gift is nice, but memories are obviously more personal, more lasting.
And of course, if pennies must be pinched, getting together to rent a bad movie or a enjoy a night of Scrabble, Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit is a cheap but priceless way to spend an evening. That’s traditional and nostalgic fun.
That’s the gift that keeps on giving.