Image: Duluth Trading Company, store interior.
‘Tis the season!… for many Americans to fret about their holiday gift-giving. Whether you’re competing with crowds at Black Friday events, keeping tabs on the latest trends, or avoiding that hubbub altogether in favor of alternatives, faculty in SoHE’s Consumer Science department have you covered.
Plan for success
As with any big project, planning pays off. SoHE’s Linda Lepe, Director of Consumer Finance and Financial Planning, recommends shoppers think in terms of a “plan” rather than a “budget,” since the latter can feel a bit Grinch-like in the season of giving. “Saying ‘budget’ is like saying a bad word. It’s like saying ‘diet.’ I think more in terms of a ‘spending plan’ and being proactive,” she told NBC15’s Amelia Jones.
Dr. Christine Whelan, Director of the Money, Relationships, and Equality Initiative at SoHE, developed a worksheet to help people align their gift-giving with their core values and priorities, which she discussed on Channel 3000’s Live at Four (below), with NBC15’s Sierra Gillespie, with WORT Radio’s Monday Buzz, and with the Wisconsin Examiner: “If we take a moment to think about how to be conscious consumers and spend in keeping with our values, we can maximize our happiness and still participate in the gift-giving tradition of the holiday season,” Whelan says. Beginning tomorrow, too, Whelan will be the featured guest blogger for Building Brave, a popular, Wisconsin-based women’s networking app.
Keep your eyes on the prize
Jerry O’Brien, Director of the Kohl’s Center for Retailing, talks with ABC 27’s Michelle Alfini about how the changing nature of retail has largely worked to customers’ advantage: “This is where consumers spend and decide who wins and who doesn’t.” With increased opportunities to shop on multiple platforms, in-store or online, and at various outlets, retailers are only having to work harder to stand out in the crowd and attract customers again and again.
One way they’ve done this, explains Consumer Science Associate Professor Dr. Cliff Robb has been by slowly ballooning “Black Friday” to encompass the better part of a week. It’s no longer just “Black Friday,” but also “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday,” with some retailers also open on Thanksgiving Day itself.
Robb advises consumers to zoom out from the shopping craze and think about their finances more holistically: “In the 1970s and ’80s, we had pretty steady rates of average household savings around 10 to 15 percent. Now it’s closer to 4 or 5 percent.” With family together for holidays, he notes, people should take the opportunity to discuss family finances and priorities more directly.