Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Gift Problem

Americans spend much less on gifts than they once did. In 2011, the average household spent $1,037 on gifts for people in other households, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey. This is much less than the $1,415 spent on gifts in 2000. The average household cut its spending on gifts for people in other households by 27 percent between 2000 and 2011, after adjusting for inflation. What happened?

One reason for the steep decline in spending on gifts is that there is less to give. The Internet has deleted a range of physical objects from the pantheon of traditional gifts: books, CDs, DVDs, video games--a growing percentage of the population no longer welcomes these physical gifts, preferring downloads instead. It seems the only option left for modern gift givers is Amazon and iTunes gift certificates. If you're grappling with the Gift Problem, the list below might help. These are the ten categories of gifts for people in other households on which the average household spends the most... 

1. Clothing for females
2. Clothing for males
3. Shoes
4. Toys
5. Clothing for infants
6. Stationary and gift wrap
7. Jewelry
8. Household decorative items
9. Wine
10. Cosmetics, perfume, and bath products

Note that books, CDs, DVDs, and video games appear nowhere on the list.

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