Tag Archives: Christmas shopping

Merry Christmas from MindField Online!

christmasHope everybody has a great time with family and friends this Christmas Day. BE SAFE! If you get a chance, join us over at the MindField Facebook page, and tell us about the most meaningful gift you received this year. Not the biggest or most expensive, but the one that touched you most. Take care and Ho Ho Ho!!

Here are some fun Holiday spending statistics (including Hanukkah and Kwanzaa) to quote at the dinner table, as reported by the National Retail Federation. You’re welcome.

  • Total Spending: $804, up 5% from last year
  • Gifts for…Family $460, Friends $80, Co-workers $26, Pets $30
  • Decorations: $54
  • Food: $100
  • Cards: $30
  • Flowers: $20
  • Where we shop: Discount stores 62%, Department stores 60%, Internet 54%, Grocery stores 52%, Catalogs 31%
  • When we started shopping: Before Halloween 40%
  • Average spent when we start early: $636
  • Average spent when we start late: $1074

Last Minute Holiday Shopping

panic shopOur shopping has been done for a while, so I keep getting surprised as we are out and about: I see a million cars in the lot and I say “MAN! What is going on at the mall?! …oh, right. Last minute Christmas shopping.”

If the last minute isn’t here already, it’s close. What does that mean to you? How do you tend to get caught up in the Last Minute? For us, it’s less about putting it off, and more about surprises. We find out that somebody already got the same gift for someone on our list, and somehow it is always more convenient for US to return it and get something else. Or, “I didn’t think her boyfriend would last until Christmas, but he did, and now we have to buy him a present!”

The Last Minute can be stressful, and mistakes can be made. Here are a couple of links to illustrate…

And on a more helpful note:

So, don’t get stressed and don’t feel bad. Look around you – you aren’t alone! In fact, 17% of us waited until the last week! How about you? Is your shopping long done, or are you reading this on your phone while standing in line at Bed & Bath? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!


app shopping
freedigitalphotos.net/ Stuart Miles/ imagerymajestic

When we first did a piece on Holiday shopping apps – about 4 years ago – the “gee-whiz” developments were apps that helped you remember where you parked your car, or ones that had detailed maps of malls across America.

They have gotten smarter since then. Some of this year’s highlights (and no, these are not endorsements) include the following:

  • BuyVia: Price comparisons, mobile couponing, price alerts and product reviews — along with secure online shopping.
  • Clutch: Store all your coupons, as well as loyalty and gift-card data with this app.
  • Favado: Cut your bills by comparing real-time sale data from more than 65,000 supermarket and drug stores nationwide.
  • Goodzer: Compares prices on products ranging from deodorant to little black dresses carried by stores in your neighborhood.
  • Ibotta: Receive cash rebates for everyday purchases in over 80 stores.
  • Pounce: See a product you’ve been looking for advertised in a circular or catalog at a great price? Snap a photo of it with your iPhone and this tool lets you buy it directly from the retailer in two clicks.
  • PriceGrabber: Scan products’ barcodes while shopping to see whether other retailers offer lower prices.
  • PriceJump: Scan bar codes and compare prices from stores near them and at more than 5,000 online vendors.
  • RedLaser: Scan an item’s bar code to compare prices at thousands of online retailers and local walk-in stores.
  • RetailMeNot: Collects coupon codes and sale information from a range of retailers and lets you bookmark your favorite stores so that you can check for discounts while you’re shopping.
  • ShopAdvisor: Search for your desired item (or scan its barcode), save it to your shopping list, and wait. The app will alert you when its price drops at any store.
  • Shopkick: earn rewards simply for browsing — no purchase required.


Download Smart!

A final note – wherever you choose to download your new apps, there should be a rating/review system to give you an idea if this app is worth it, and if it is “safe” to download. Always check the ratings and reviews!

Holiday Shopping App Links:

Have you downloaded any exciting shopping apps for the Holiday Season? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Cyber Monday On the Rise

cyber mondayWe have heard a lot of noise about the “Death of Black Friday” this year. Is that true?

I think it’s all relative. It’s still a huge shopping day, but maybe not as big as in the past. Why? I think shoppers are tiring of the hassle, and retailers are tiring of the negative headlines. Stores have taken steps to spread out the deals over a number of days (opening on Thanksgiving has taken a toll), and limit the doorbusters – often flashpoints for inter-shopper conflict.

One thing we can say for sure is that, this year, Cyber Monday has edged out Black Friday for the first time. Apparently, as NBC News cleverly put it: “We would rather be Online than stand IN line!”…

  • 151 million of us went shopping in total this past weekend
  • 103 million of us shopped online,
  • 102 million went to the physical stores
  • 94 million of us didn’t shop at all (including ME.)
  • We spent an average of $299 this past weekend, 2/3 of that on gifts
  • We spent $1.8 billion on Thanksgiving Day
  • We spent another $10.4 billion on Black Friday
  • Sales were down 1.5% in stores
  • Spending per shopper was down 1.4%
  • We spent $3 billion on line on Cyber Monday
  • That’s an increase of 12%
  • This year’s Gotta Have item: big screen TVs!

Read more fun facts here! Personally, I can see the benefits of the Cyber Monday thing. I have participated in the past, but never in gift-giving mode. Typically, I have been needing a new laptop for 3 or 4 months, and Cyber Monday is when I pull the trigger. I have saved hundreds of bucks, for sure, and all from the comfort of home.

How about you? Are your holiday shopping habits changing? Is Black Friday still fun, or is it losing its charm? Are you steering more toward Cyber Monday these days? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Saving for the Holidays

holiday savingsSaving up for holiday shopping used to be easier. In the old days, they had the Christmas Club. At some point, earlier in the year, you would start a savings account strictly for your upcoming holiday shopping. By Thanksgiving, you pretty much had everything you were going to spend, sitting there waiting for you – no surprises.

What happened to the Christmas Club? I don’t know. I know our savings rate remains pretty dismal. And people have more pressing needs these days, such as food and rent. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a few cuts here and there, and save up a nice chunk of change for the holidays – even if you start NOW (in November!)

That’s what money dude Dave Ramsey says in a newsletter article entitled, “Temporary Budget Cuts That Can Net You $700 for Christmas.” He looks at the money we spend on entertainment, dining out, groceries, etc., and looks for ways to temporarily (or maybe not-so-temporarily) trim the excess to put toward the holidays.

Here are the highlights, and what you might save:

  1. Restaurants: we typically spend $230 per month per family
  2. Groceries: make the right cuts, and you could save $25-35 per week. How? Read the piece!
  3. Entertainment: Skipping one family trip to the movies could save you $50 (But, I’m sorry, you have to see Star Wars!)
  4. Clothes: Make those winter clothes last one more season, and maybe catch the clearance sales in January.
  5. Fun Money: This is a big Dave Ramsey thing. When you budget fun money, it keeps it separate from “expenses money.” So, have less fun, I guess.

The Total:

I’m no math genius, and your mileage may vary, but Dave says you can save up to $700 from now until Christmas. And, you might just learn some new, responsible spending habits along the way. Sounds like a Happy Holiday to me! What do YOU think? Could you make the cuts? Would it work for you? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Black Friday Preview


Recently, Walmart announced changes to the way they will be doing Black Friday in an effort to “keep things simple.’ One big change: no more doorbusters. Apparently, they lead to confusion. And, let’s be honest – they can sometimes lead to confrontation (not that this is Walmart’s fault, nor is the chaos limited to Walmart). Instead, they “will offer deep discounts on gift items like TVs, DVDs and pajamas starting at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving at its stores until they are gone.” Frankly, if a redesign leads to fewer fistfights, I’m for it. Proactive!

So, it’s two weeks until Black Friday. What can we expect? Well, several stores have already released, or previewed or teased, their Black Friday mailers. Other stores’ mailers have been “discovered” by something called BlackFriday.com.

Here are some links to some of the more popular national stores Black Friday Ads, or top secret intel…

Lots more at BlackFriday.com, so check it out. So, how about you? Looking forward to Black Friday, or have you changed your habits over the years? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Gift Card Popularity Keeps Rising

gift cardDid you receive or give gift cards this holiday season? I was mostly a Giver this year, and mostly for clients. I gave out six 10-dollar iTunes gift cards, two $25 Regal Cinemas, and a $25 Red Lobster. For family, an Olive Garden for mom, and a Sears for my nephew the electrician.

So, while some folks think they are an incredible convenience, and others think they are incredibly impersonal, gift cards are here to stay, and growing in their use.

The retail federation conducted a consumer survey in October and found that 62 percent of shoppers said they would like to receive a gift card, making gift cards the most requested gift item eight years in a row. The average shopper buying gift cards will spend $173, up from $163 last year, the NRF said. Dayton Daily News

Also helping the cause, new rules that make gift cards last longer before expiring. That alone has accounted for the dollar amount of cards going unused from $8 billion down to 1 billion!

So, what are the best ways to get the most out of the gift cards you have received? What can you do if you have a problem using them? Read this article to find out!

How about you? Did you give or receive? Are you using gift cards more or less often these days? Are they convenient or too impersonal? Let us know at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Fun at the Return Desk

returnsSome comic once had a bit about gift-giving (or “gifting” if you hate the English language.) Your mom hands you a terrible gift and says, “I included the receipt so you can take it back.” And you’re like, “Great, a bad gift AND an errand!”

This year, I’m guilty of that, though my intentions were good. A couple of my wife’s wish list included a tracksuit and a bolero jacket, size medium. I found the tracksuit, but they only had large pants. I bought them, and then later found medium pants. So, that’s return #1 for wifey. Later, I found two boleros and couldn’t decide between them, so I bought both. Return #2! Sorry honey, I love ya, but I have done my mall duty for the year (two trips!!)

So, returns. It’s big business.  It’s a prime reason that 12/26 is the second-biggest shopping day of the year. In general, retailers aren’t thrilled, because there is so much room for fraud.

The retail industry will lose an estimated $3.8 billion to fraudulent returns this holiday season, up from $3.4 billion last year, the retail federation said. Dayton Daily News

So it’s no surprise that retailers have rules for returns, some naughty, some nice. In fact, that’s the title of every other article on the subject appearing today (mostly because they are reprinting the list from Consumer Reports.) So, here’s a link that article! Finds out which retailers are naughty and/or nice this year!! Enjoy, and have a great weekend at the mall!

Bad Gifts 2014

badYesterday, we posted a little piece on Facebook, wherein Miss Manners threw some serious shade on people who make and hand out Holiday gift wish lists. What did you think? Personally, I’d rather have some idea of what to give. Gift shopping is stressful, and I want to get it right. On a selfish tip, I would also like to RECEIVE the right thing, as well.

Apparently, the things we DON’T want to receive are common enough that Consumer Reports has compiled a list, based on a survey of 1500 adults. What do we NOT want this year? Here are the top 5:

  • Hard liquor: 25%
  • Flowers or plants: 23%
  • Home décor: 13%
  • Books: 8%
  • Kitchen items: 7%

Interesting that booze is so high on the list, while wine is much farther down. Anyway, there are more details in the original, so check it out!

What do you think? Is making a list of what you want a bad thing? Is making a list of what you DON’T want even worse? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page – because there are only 9 days left!!

Holiday Shopping Thru the Ages

xmas shoppingThat is, OUR ages. Advertisers have done the research, and it seems that our attitudes and shopping habits during the Holiday season depend on our age. Check it out!

First, the terminology: Millennials are age 18-34, Gen X is 35-54, and Boomers are 55-plus.

  • How much do we spend on gifts? Millennials $307, Gen X $299, Boomers $262
  • Where do we shop? Millennials online, Gen X online, Boomers in-store
  • Where do we learn about this year’s popular gifts? Millennials online, Gen X online, Boomers on TV
  • Favorite Holiday Activity? Millennials gift-giving, Gen X decorating, Boomers entertaining
  • Holiday dislikes: Millennials spending, Gen X spending, Boomers crowds

More info at the original piece, so check it out!

So, do you see yourself in this picture? Has your attitude about Holiday shopping changed over the years? How so? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!