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The Gift of Giving

Written by Bill Tanzer

 

We’re fast approaching the biggest holiday season of the year and retail projections are all over the place. I’m sure you read some of the doom and gloom reports predicting fourth quarter sales to be a “Blue Christmas.” Conflicting analysis on seasonal hiring also has retailers hiring more and less workers than last year (when stores hired 627,600 workers for the holidays.) So far, October showed a gain of 141,500 jobs, so the numbers in November will really show what’s happening in retail.

On the other hand, UPS just announced it plans on seeing a late-season surge of deliveries, due to the expected increase in internet purchases.

The National Retail Federation’s consumer intention survey conservatively estimates a slight decrease in holiday spending, down from an average of $718.98 per consumer last year to $704.18 in 2011. (Interestingly, six out of 10 shoppers surveyed said they plan on buying gifts for themselves in addition to family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors and pets.)

In all cases, it is safe to say that 2011 is far better than the recession of 2008, when seasonal hiring was at its lowest in two decades and holiday shopping was like pulling teeth.

What’s It All About?

Money doesn’t always bring happiness but spending money on loved ones usually contributes to a happier life. This is not just being sappy and sentimental and throwing around cliches. It doesn’t matter what the actual amount is, what the gift may be, how big or large – gift giving benefits the giver as well as the recipient. The article “Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness” – published in the March 21, 2008 edition of Science Magazine – backs up my statement. The findings suggest that spending as little as $5 on a loved one increases the giver’s well-being.

Seriously, who doesn’t enjoy giving presents to loved ones, in colorfully-wrapped gift boxes containing the perfect surprise?

Not to sound like one of those doom and gloomers, but just imagine that the present is bundled not in a gift box but in a hideous fabric found while rummaging through storage. Or stuffed into a boring brown bag fit for lunch leftovers. Or a month-old newspaper. Would that make anyone, the recipient or giver, feel happier? I seriously doubt it. You mean you spent days searching for the perfect present and thought wrapping it up in refuse would make a great impression?

I’m being extreme here but still, making a point: If your company is a product-oriented company with gift giving (and fourth quarter sales) a significant source of purchases, it is essential that customers know an effort has been made to present the best package possible. That means customized packaging which accurately represents your business image.

November 8, 2011

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