The Hot Holiday Shopping Trend: Selfishness
Business + Economy

The Hot Holiday Shopping Trend: Selfishness


The holidays are a time for gratitude and selfless giving, right?

Not exactly, according to the National Retail Federation. Their recent survey finds that self-gifting will reach an all-time high during the holidays this year. Nearly 60 percent of holiday shoppers are expected to spend an average of $139.92 on themselves — up from $130.43 last year.

Overall, holiday spending is also projected to increase this year, with the average shopper expected to lay out $749.51 on gifts, décor and greeting cards, a modest $9 increase from last year. Luckily most shoppers will spend significantly more on others than themselves – the largest portion of a holiday shopper’s budget ($421.82) will go towards gifts for family members.

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But self-splurging is increasingly popular with younger Americans — over 70 percent of consumers in the 18 to 24 age range said they will buy gifts for themselves. “It looks like young adults have the ‘one for you two for me’ mentality this year,” said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow in the press release, “which is surprising given that this is also the age group that typically doesn’t have the income or ability to splurge.”

Black Friday typically sees a lot of competitive self-gifters lining up in the middle of the night and skipping Thanksgiving dinner to buy the latest electronics and appliances. Two women in California even camped out last Wednesday to buy a discounted TV — eight days before Black Friday. Extreme shoppers can also get violent — last year, a woman used pepper spray on fellow Wal-Mart shoppers in an attempt to move closer to a display of Xbox games.

Charities could also feel this not-so-selfless holiday spirit. A November survey from World Vision finds that only 45 percent of adults surveyed said they’d be likely to give someone a charitable gift as a result of the economic climate, down from 51 percent last year. “We have gone through these tough times and it’s surprising that instead of being more sympathetic, Americans are spending more on holiday gifts and giving less to charity,” said World Vision Gift Catalog Director Sarah Renusch in a statement.

The good news is that the boom in selfish spending is a sign of strengthening consumer confidence, a direction that could continue even after the holidays, providing Congress agrees on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. Consumer confidence in October was at its highest level in nearly five years, and saw the biggest year-over-year spike since 1994. Americans are spending more on cars, home renovation and at retail stores – and of course, on themselves.