Black Friday is over and Cyber Monday has passed, but merchants are open and hoping to profit off the most lucrative shopping season of the year.

But with the rebounding economy, are consumers planning to spend more or less?

“I am spending less because the economy is messed up,” said Sheree Boyd of Baltimore. “I’ve just been buying my kids little things here and there really I cut back a lot…I’ve just been buying my kids gifts and everybody else will have to wait until later on. I’m even taking away from my bill money just so I can provide them with something nice. I really didn’t want them to be affected by it.”

Davyette Adams of Baltimore agrees.

“Most people I know have set a budget and it’s less than what they would typically spend due to the economy. I have definitely downgraded my budget this year. I planned on spending less and I went a little bit over my budget but I’m still under where I was last year.”

And when it comes to gift giving Adams, “cut certain people out and focused on her main family, with other people getting cards.”

A recent survey by American Research Group found that shoppers around the country say they are planning to spend an average of $646 for gifts this holiday season, down from $658 last year, according to the twenty-sixth annual survey on holiday spending. Furthermore, customers are looking for deals with 53 percent of respondents saying they plan to wait until the items go on sale.

Mani, manager of RK Jewelers in Mondawmin Mall, says necessary expenses are taking priority over luxury goods.

“We have a lot more demand for lower end merchandise. People have scaled down on their spending. I think it is going to turn around in a few years, but it won’t be done over night.”

But David Gaskins of Baltimore believes the economy is getting better.

“Actually for some reason, people are shopping more I give all credit to President Obama…He has made it very possible for a lot of people who lost their jobs to get unemployment and the government is still funding Social Service.”

In addition to economic woes, higher consumer debt is another foe for retailers.

The National Foundation of Credit Counseling (NFCC), a nonprofit financial counselor, estimates that many Americans won’t be shopping at all. In a recent survey of 1,232 people, 40 percent responded that they “anticipate further financial distress” and will be spending zero dollars.

Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC says “these figures provide a snapshot of the desperate situation in which consumers find themselves, and how seriously they are taking their situation.”


Tia Lewis

Special to the AFRO