Tag Archives: Christmas shopping

Vendredi Noir

That’s French for “Black Friday,” because I am sooo clever! Anyway, after you’ve done your combat shopping, please head over to the MindField Online Facebook page and give us a report of what you’ve seen. Big crowds? Craziness? Better or worse than you expected? Let us know…and have a great weekend!

(photo: the churchofnopeople.com)

The Return of the Return of Layaway!

Last year we blogged about how a bad economy and the credit crunch were leading to “The Return of Layaway” in your favorite stores. This year, there’s a new twist.

Same lame economy, but now it’s an election year. I heard on the radio that Wal-Mart is worried that with politicians buying up every moment of commercial time, they won’t be able to do the kind of advertising they need to make a profit at the Holidays. So, one thing they are doing is improving their layaway program to get your attention.

So, in addition to starting the program much earlier this year…

Walmart will refund the $15 fee to open a layaway account after customers make their final payment, and it will no longer charge a cancellation fee to customers who fail to finish paying for the item.  USNews.com

Other stores like Kmart, Sears and Toys R Us are joining in the fun, too. You can read all about it here.

What do you think? Were you planning to use layaway this year? Would this tempt you to? Let us know. And have a fun, SAFE Labor Day weekend!

(photo: fh.ext.wvu.edu)

After Christmas Retail Madness!

Santa down! Send backup!

For hard-core shoppers, the day after Christmas is the real Black Friday, and a day off from work for many shoppers. Expect large chains to open early and close well past their usual hours as customers exchange unwanted presents for more desirable ones, redeem gift cards they’ve collected, and spend any holiday cash that turned up in their stockings. – Consumer Reports

Sounds like a ground zero of retail insanity: crazy price cuts coupled with people having the day off from work. I will pass. But the rest of the week? I might give the mall a try or, better yet, see what after-Christmas deals I might find on the web.

Among the post-Xmas deals you may find this year:

  • Deals on anything holiday related, from cards and wrapping paper to reindeer-print pajamas
  • Williams Sonoma: up to 88% off on Holiday items
  • Amazon.com: up to 75% off on apparel, electronics, and groceries
  • Gymboree: 50% off
  • Aeropostale: up to 70% off
  • Oshkosh B’Gosh: up to 70% off
  • Cabela’s: up to 70% off
  • Old Navy: up to 70% off
  • Pottery Barn: up to 70% off
  • Barnes & Noble: 50 to 90% off
  • Walmart: 50% off clothing and toys

Read more at Consumer Reports.

So, how about you? Did you head into combat on The Day After? How about the rest of this week? Any big returns? Gift certificates to burn off? What specials did you find? Let us know!

Christmas by the Numbers

Hey gang! Here is a lightweight, on-vacation blog post about Christmas spending trends for 2011, based on predictions from the National Retail Federation

Overall, the dollar amount we plan to spend…

  • For gifts: $515.94 – down 50 bucks in the past 5 years
  • For Decorations – $46.73
  • For Holiday Food – $96.75
  • Total Amount we plan to spend: $704.18

As for Holiday shopping trends…

  • 60% of us see holiday shopping as an opportunity to buy something for ourselves
  • 66% of us buy from a Discount Store
  • 57% of us buy from a Department Store
  • 49% of us buy from a Grocery Store/Supermarket
  • 47% of us buy Online
  • 42% if us say that sales and discounts are the most important factor

And 91% of us plan to celebrate the holidays!!

Do these stats sound right to you? Let us know!

What’s Your Return Policy?

From Black Friday to the Return Desk: it's the Circle of Life!

We’ve all seen the of Black Friday news footage madness – the stampedes, shoving and hysteria. Whether you find these scenes funny or horrifying, I bet you don’t watch them and say, “These look like reasonable people who will use good judgment to make sound purchases.”

Apparently the logic, i.e. “can we really afford this?” doesn’t kick in until well after you get home from the mall and eat those leftover turkey sandwiches.

So, while our spending is up over 15% from last year, returns are also way up, long before the actually holidays hit!

Buyers remorse? This is the ultimate environment for it. You get lured in by the deals, but ultimately you realize you don’t want to be paying this stuff off for the next six to 12 months. Retail Analyst, NBC Today Show

The segment taking the biggest hit is electronics. They will lose $17 billion to returns this year, up 21% in the past four years.  Why do we return electronics? 5% of us claim some product defect, while 27% claim buyer’s remorse.

Despite getting killed by returns, some retailers are seeing the value of a good return policy. For example, Nordstrom.com used to charge a $6 restock fee. Now, returns are free.

For some, this is all a bunch of humbug. The shopping truly is part of the fun of the holiday season. To you I say go crazy…but keep your receipts!

Online Shopping, Credit Card Use On the Rise

Extreme Online Shopping: It's RADICAL!

Black Friday is a time-honored shopping tradition. In recent years, Black Friday had a baby named Cyber Monday. And this year it was a BIG baby! This year…

Cyber Monday (was) the heaviest online spending day on record, with $1.25 billion in sales.  Tuesday and Wednesday followed with billion dollar spending days, helping Cyber Week reach a record weekly total of nearly $6 billion in spending.  Consumer Affairs

So far this season, we have spent almost $19 billion online, an increase of 15% over last year. So, great, we’re spending again – that’s got to be good news for the economy, right? Well, maybe and maybe not. It seems that we’re doing a lot of that spending using our credit cards. Credit card spending is up 7.4 %, while debit card use is up only 3.4%. Will we pay off those credit card purchases, or will we let ‘em ride? That’s the question! Paying them off is usually a sign of consumer confidence – which has been in short supply lately!

So, how about you? Have you increased your online buying this year? What makes you choose one retailer over another? Are you using more credit or debit? Let us know!

App-y Holidays at the Mall!

In this tough economy, consumers are laser-focused on finding ways to stretch their budgets, and their best tool may be in their pockets. There are a number of smartphone applications that can help you to organize your shopping, track your spending, and let you know that you’re walking away with the best deal available.   MSN Money

From finding sales, to comparing prices, to searching interactive maps of the mall, to finding your car when you’re finished, when it comes to your holiday shopping, “there’s an app for that!” And 60% of shoppers will use one or more this year. Here are a few of the standouts:

  • Gift List: You set a budget for the people on your list, and hit the mall. This app keeps track of what you have spent on each person.
  • Lemon: Digitally stores all of your receipts for the inevitable gift that you have to return.
  • Key Ring Rewards: You know that annoying collection of store loyalty cards clogging up your key ring? Scan them with this app and lose the clutter!
  • Fast Mall: Stores interactive maps of 1250 mall across the US. Tell it the names of your fave stores and, using location-based networking, it will send you deals when you’re there. Maybe best of all, it will help you find your car when you’re done!

These are just a few. There’s a top 10 list with links to the apps HERE. Check it out! And tell us, have you/might you/will you use any of these?

Black Friday Thankfulness

A fun chart. Multiply by 1.55 to get Dollars

Here’s a little bit of good news for all you Holiday shoppers here in the States. Imagine reading THIS article in the UK Daily Mail that says the following:

  • An iPod Nano costs $175 in London and $135 in Boston
  • UGG boots: $269 London, $147 Boston
  • Elizabeth Arden 8-hr cream: $39 London, $18 Boston
  • Men’s Ralph Lauren pullover: $185 London, $95 Boston
  • Sesame Street Rockin’ Elmo: $130 London, $62 Boston

What would you do? Would you buy a plane ticket and do your Holiday shopping in the US of A? Due to a relatively weak Dollar, and HUGE UK taxes, thousands of Brits are doing exactly that this year!

So, as you watch the Wal-Mart credit-card swiper start to smoke and throw sparks as it adds up your purchases, take heart…it could be worse!