Walking around the various shopping centers during the holidays is not fun: they blast Kenny G’s Christmas carol covers for hours on end, every check-out has an insane line of loud complainers on cell phones and there are always children with tears streaming down their faces.
As you’re trying to figure out whether or not your mom will hate the color of the sweater you’re getting her, do you get stressed out enough to start just buying yourself gifts? Or perhaps while shopping for somebody else, you noticed that a pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing for weeks is finally on sale, so you decide to just snag it while you can. Or maybe you just hate holiday shopping all together because it’s fucking ridiculous to put yourself through all that when you can do it online anyway (unless you’re hitting up small businesses).
Whatever your reasoning may be, do you ever wind up just shopping for yourself? If so, you wouldn’t be alone: apparently self-gifting is super normal with 59% of 2012 holiday shoppers, and those who partake spend an average of $140 on themselves, according to the National Retail Federation. Their spokeswoman, Kathy Grannis, attributes this growing trend to the major deals that typically-frugal shoppers see during their visits to stores:
“People really look forward to the holiday season and the discounts that are offered, because they know that they’re going to get items significantly less than they may have any other time of the year. You know, when you see cashmere sweaters that were previously $150 now marked down to $30 and $40, that’s a great example of what people would be driven towards.”
One shopper NPR spoke to another shopper who recalled that most holiday deals were after December 25th, whereas now they’re the month(s) before. It becomes easier to justify buying yourself a few treats when you know you’ll be wrapping the rest for another person: “You’re giving to other people if you have the disposable income. And then if the sale banner is up there, you kind of feel like you deserve it.”
The thing is that retailers wind up utilizing this rationalization process to encourage shoppers to spend even more money on themselves. Black Friday deals are geared toward the mindset of the “scarcity effect,” said Barbara Bickart, a professor at Boston University.
“If something’s going to be limited, you’ve gotta do it right away. It’s going to urge you, push you to behave, to act, to consume…”So these things like ‘limited time offer,’ you know, suggesting that something is scarce, you get caught up in the excitement of it, right? And they make you want to take action right away. So, yeah, they definitely know how to motivate consumers to act.”
I can completely see how people mind wind up self-gifting; after all, it’s your money, and you can spend it on whomever you would like, whether it’s yourself or loved ones. While I’m getting quite a few gifts for my immediate family and grandparents I admittedly bought myself a Clarisonic due to the VIB 20% discount at Sephora. Plus, lots of people don’t even exchange presents. My group of friends all just make each other dinners or split bottles of wine together as opposed to actually buying one another things. My best friend and I are taking one another snowboarding, so it’s pretty much the same as self-gifting.
Whether you decide to spend $0, buy presents for your loved ones or get a couple gifts for yourself, just try and stay anxiety-free. I realize it’s nearly impossible given the season, but keeping calm (and carrying on, etc.) may help prevent overspending and over-stressing.
Photo: Artful Sister