Economists Predict 2.8% More Christmas Cheer

Posted on November 28, 2011


The Christmas shopping season kicked off last Friday in America, a day known as Black Friday, either because it signals the day many retailers are first “in the black” and become profitable for the year, or because of all the black eyes and bruises as shoppers elbow and trample each other, racing to claim the last remaining deeply-discounted flat screen TVs they plan to give to friends or family as a physical representation of their “goodwill towards men.”

Economists predict 2.8% growth in holiday spending, down from a 5.2% increase last year.  Economists and government officials realize growth in the Christmas shopping season can be the difference between GDP expansion or recession and have challenged all Americans to help make up the difference by striving for 5.2% more Christmas cheer than in 2010.

This means 2011 Christmas carols must be 5.2% louder than 2010.

The pictures of kids sitting on Santa’s lap must be 5.2% cuter.

The family achievements outlined in your annual Christmas card must be 5.2% more impressive.

Fruitcake given to neighbors should be 5.2% harder.

Theatrical productions of a Christmas Carol must feature Scrooge being visited by 3.156 ghosts instead of last year’s 3.

George Bailey must lose 5.2% of the hearing in his good ear.

Your office Secret Santa should be 5.2% more secretive.

But most importantly, please, please, please spend at least 5.2% more money than you spent last year.

Parents may argue that they spent 5.2% more on presents in 2010 but felt short-changed when their children didn’t seem 5.2% more grateful than in 2009.  In fact, some parents measured an overall decrease in gratitude from the previous year.  One mother reported, “For months and months I looked forward to Christmas morning so I could see the look on my son’s face, mostly because I hadn’t seen his face for months and months because I took a part time job in the evenings to pay for the previous year’s gifts.  But when I saw the 2010 ‘look on his face,’ it seemed like a sloppy seconds version of the 2009 ‘look on his face.'”

This year many stores did their part to support the economy by starting Black Friday on Thursday.  Some Christmas Scrooges say it’s unfair to make employees work on Thanksgiving, but store owners consider it a fair trade since customers will be working nights, weekends, and holidays to pay off the debt they incurred during Christmas.

Anyone who complains about Black Friday moving to Thursday or Christmas decorations coming out in October is simply a Scrooge, and you’d expect a money miser like Scrooge to have a better understanding of simple Christmas economics.

Businesses run on borrowed money.

The inventory on shelves is paid for with borrowed money.

Money is only lent with the promise that the loan will be returned with interest.

In order to pay interest, businesses have to find ways to convince shoppers to consume more than last year.

And this is why Christmas–the most important consuming period of an economy based on 70% consumer spending–must grow and grow and grow.

Ours is a Christmas economy.

Some wonder when the push to start the Christmas season earlier will end.  It’s taking Americans longer and longer each year to pay off Christmas debts and economists theorize market forces should dictate the most efficient date for the shopping season to start.  If Black Friday starts earlier and earlier, and paying off Christmas debt takes longer and longer, eventually the two dates will intersect–probably sometime in mid-July.

Posted in: Columns