13 Observations On The New Holiday Spending Normal

Tyler Durden's picture

While the rest of the world enjoys the New Normal, which lately has primarily and mostly negative connotations, when it comes to such "legacy" aspects of life as holiday shopping, we all enjoy the fall back to a simpler time assuming that at least such basic behavior as buying presents for the loved (and not so loved) ones can hardly change much with the years. Alas, even this last bastion of nostalgic simplicity has now been swept away: Nick Colas and his team from ConvergEx, have once again decided to educate us about the folly of assuming the old ways are with us, and has created a useful compilation exposing the finer nuances of the "twelve days of online Christmas" which show that just like everything else, holiday shopping patterns are rapidly changing as well. "This holiday season consumers aren’t quite as concerned with finding “cheap gifts” as in recent years, though traditional luxury items such as jewelry and cashmere sweaters are still losing traction with gift-givers. They’re seeking sales on electronics, becoming increasingly enamored with real vs. artificial Christmas trees, and backing off catering services in favor of home-cooked ham. New York City is the most popular place to spend Christmas and New Years (hey, it’s cheaper than a ski destination), but interest in the Radio City Rockettes and Broadway shows is dwindling. All these observations come courtesy of two of our favorite online gauges of consumer behavior – Google Trends and search engine autofills from Google, Yahoo and Bing. We’ve compiled a collection of 13 visuals (12 for the days of Christmas plus a bonus for Hanukkah) that ultimately show consumer spending patterns are still decidedly cautious."

More from Convergex:

So read on for our 13 observations on holiday spending (in no particular order), running the gamut from presents to trips to food.

#13: Online shoppers are less concerned with “cheap presents” this year than in any other year since 2004. Of the 13 observations, this one’s the most optimistic economically-speaking, though the focus on inexpensive gifts in 2007 is curious. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the Great Recession officially began in December 2007, so perhaps this is a reflection of consumers starting to feel the pinch.

#12: Electronics are the most popular item that people want to find on sale. TVs, laptops and iPods top the list, while tires and clothes also made an appearance in the top 10 Bing autofills.

#11: iPods, however, have been losing popularity as gifts over the years. 2007 was their peak, and this year they’re only about as popular as in 2004, despite a continuous stream of new models. We’re willing it bet it’s more a iPhone/iMac/iPad issue than economic issue, though the $200+ price tag may have some consumers thinking twice.

#10: Since spenders really began to feel the credit crunch in mid-2008, there’s been an evident substitution of wool sweaters for pricier cashmere sweaters. This one’s surely an economic issue.

#9: Jewelry, always a celebrated gift option, is about as sought-after this year as in 2010 and 2008. Pre-recession, as well as in 2009 prior to fears of a double-dip, it was a much more common gift – diamonds in particular. Google Trends also shows evidence of a substitution of less costly gold jewelry from search for diamond-studded fare, although part of this could be due to gold’s well-publicized investment value. Sort of a Yuletide ‘Two birds with one stone” present.

#8: Men, friends, kids and coworkers top the list of people for whom consumers most want to find cheap gifts, according to Bing’s autofill results. Mom, dad and teachers are also popular searches, though noticeably absent is the phrase “cheap gifts for women.”

#7: Every year since 2004, searches for “real Christmas trees” have been catching up to “artificial Christmas trees” and are now almost even. Real trees cost anywhere from $15 to $200 depending on where you buy them, while artificial trees cost $100 on average. However, over the course of 10 years, real trees cost more than 3 times as much as an artificial one, according to the American Christmas Tree Association (http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/12/09/cost-of-christmas-are-live-trees-...).

#6: Northeasterners planning vacations prefer either to stay very local or go abroad (Google’s autofill is location-adaptive). New York City is the most favored destination (a relatively inexpensive travel option for those in the region), followed by India, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. And the cheaper Euro doesn’t seem to be helping boost travel plans to the Continent – Spain and Paris are at the bottom of this Top 10 list.

#5: New York is also the leading New Year Eve haven, followed by the likes of Vegas, California, New Orleans, Chicago and Atlanta. Paris is the only international destination in Yahoo’s autofill results.

#4: For those who haven’t forgone holiday trips altogether, here’s more evidence New York City is a cheap alternative to more wintry hotspots. Searches for “luxury” Colorado ski vacation destination Breckenridge peaked in 2006/07 and have dropped every year since. The difference between now and 2007 is quite substantial, though on the plus side current interest in Breckenridge trips is about on par with last year.

#3: While travelers may be headed to New York, they appear to be spending less on traditional holiday activities the city offers. Interest in both the Radio City Rockettes and Broadway shows is at an all-time Christmas season low. Our offices are located in the heart of the theater district, and it does seem every bit as crowded as last year, however.

#2: Home-cooked meals are more likely to be on the dinner table than prior to the recession, when costlier catered feasts were in greater demand.

#1: What about the most sought after holiday recipe? Jello mold, according to Bing. Expectedly, ham and cookies made the list, as did reindeer food and happiness. And we hear the sangria at Ruby Tuesday is quite tasty.

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gbresnahan's picture

I love Google Trends.  I've been using this to compare the GOP presidential candidates.  The results are not surprising.


WoodMizer's picture

Thanks, Washington DC is so out of touch.

steelrules's picture

Lets hope that's a sign of things to come.

RemiG2010's picture

I love all Google products!

Jena's picture

Pacemakers probably necessary for all.  Wondering what sort of garnish is best to use on those recipes for kids.

bob_dabolina's picture

How is it that I see posts vanish from ZH? 

There was some post with a link to silver doctors...now it's gone. It's not the first time I've seen this happen. What gives?

wandstrasse's picture

...to silver doctors...


does your silver feel ill?

bullnutz's picture

Obviously that story is going to hurt silver bugs....but manipulation will NOT win out in the end.

bullnutz's picture

I have it reposted Bob, but here it is http://silverdoctors.blogspot.com/2011/12/cmecomex-grant-jpm-temporary-waiver-for.html. I was wondering ths same thing, it's probably off topic but it could have a huge impact on us precious metal bugs.

flacon's picture

Pan Asia Gold Exchange opens in June, so the waiver for JPM takes them up to May 31st. 6 more months of manipulation to buy your metals, then it's time to go for a ride to the moon and beyond. 

sasebo's picture

They hit their EDIT button & forgot to rehit SAVE ---------------

Anything else?

Sam Clemons's picture

TD once told me that the comments can come so fast that the servers literally overheat and comments might get dumped.

wandstrasse's picture

the charts look quite algorithmic. F***ing Christmas algo.

oogs66's picture

This is why zh is great. This isn't negative per se but isn't just spin. Well thought out research that brings things to our attention that we can decide what to do with!!

hawks5999's picture

Cheap presents are what you take to office parties. The fact that the search is down reflects the high unemployment.


There's a grey cloud in every silver lining.

bullnutz's picture

Here was the post Bob.  Very interesting stuff.  Looks like JP and all the other silver manipulators are going to have a market free for all until May.  The CME, NYMEX, and COMEX have issued a temporary waiver of the requirement that market participants file an updated application in order to exceed speculative position limits.   The CME announced they have waived the reporting requirements through May 31st, 2012. http://silverdoctors.blogspot.com/2011/12/cmecomex-grant-jpm-temporary-waiver-for.html

Banksters's picture

I don't want to freak anyone out, but.



NKorea Cites Mysterious Glow Just Before Kim Death



    PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea says a fierce snowstorm paused and the sky began glowing red above sacred Mount Paektu just minutes before leader Kim Jong Il’s death.

    State media say the ice on volcanic Lake Chon at the mountain in the far north cracked with a load roar.

    And in the city of Hamhung, a Manchurian crane circled a statue of Kim’s father, late President Kim Il Sung, before alighting on a tree, its head drooping before it took off toward Pyongyang.

    State media say Kim died Saturday morning at age 69. His death was announced two days later.

    Similar myths and legends also surround Kim Jong Il’s birth on Mount Paektu. Official biographies say he was born on Paektu and that a double rainbow filled the skies when he was born.



    Don't worry, Jesus, the 3 wise men, and the manger is REAL.    BITCHEZZZZZ


    IQ 101's picture

    The Manchurian crane is 'one of ours'.

    3 wise men and an agricultural building could not possibly exist could they?

    As for Jesus, you might wish to engage in further research, it is not all as legendish as you might think and if your wrong, you are beyond scroodled.

    Merry Christmas.

    Banksters's picture

    Ok, so the whole bible is true.  You should move to NK.   You'd buy their bullshit too. One last thing, do you see Jesus in burnt toast.  If you do, you are true believer!

    tarsubil's picture

    False legends were made for Kim Jong-Il therefore the story of Jesus was a false legend. Kim Jong-Il and Jesus could not be any more different. What a weird argument. Are you relying on some link through Elvis?

    bpom's picture

    In the 'reas, they say that their rice is best, but the Nipponese say that theirs is better.

    simone's picture

    "Do you believe in Jesus? … If you believe," Peter shouted to them, "clap your hands; don't let Jesus die."



    lizzy36's picture

    Jello molds.......UGH UGH UGH.

    Reminder: Diamonds Are Forever :) 

    ThrivingAdmistCollapse's picture

    Everyone is too concerned about an economic collapse to shop.

    scatterbrains's picture

    I wonder how a graph of holiday U.S. Mint sales would contrast to some of these charts.

    gwar5's picture

    Interesting. No guns for Grandma this Christmas?


    Arkadaba's picture

    On a positive note: love this video. It does remind me a bit of where I grew up and where I learnt to ski - no one could afford high end equipment or clothes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=G5dOB3VSyC8#!

    Arkadaba's picture

    And just something a little positive. Sometimes you need it. I think 2012 is going to make 2008 llook ike a walk in park. I wish I was wrong,, I hope I am wrong .... but I don't think so.

    steelrules's picture

    That's BC for ya. Great video.

    Arkadaba's picture

    Raised in Hamiliton- but we did have skis and skates. It is great video

    DollarMenu's picture

    Thanks, Arkadaba, that video is a real treat!


    San Diego Gold Bug's picture

    Christmas Silver Bells Video Give ZH and Tyler some Xmas Love!!

    Watch here

    dtwn's picture

    #8 is quite interesting, "though noticeably absent is the phrase “cheap gifts for women.”"  It's all about that pu**y.  Gotta keep it happy.

    steveo's picture

    I still think this is the best Christmas Gift I have ever received (even if I had to buy it).  

     Celestron C8 SGT XLT

    Visitors to my site kliking ads have helped pay for 7% of this fine beast, and I appreciate that, since with accessories I was $1200 over budget, ouch.    Consider stopping by and viewing some scope pics, etc.   I actually do stock charts too!

    A fantastically good telescope, able to hook up to a camera, and also able to hookup to a computer and be controlled by the computer ...."go to Orion Nebula" and it takes you right there.    It has its own GPS so it has a pretty good idea where it is in the world, then you just point it at any three bright sky objects, and it then knows automatically where everything is Exactly.    Pick any 3 bright objects and you don't even have to tell it what those objects are.

    Now that is cool!


    The Scope is only about 60 lbs wet (lets hope it doesn't get wet), but is a beast at gathering light.   These are actual pictures.   

    C'mon how about a little Christmas present for steveo?    Thanks and have a Happy Holiday season.  I will probably be pretty scarce between Christmas and New Years as far as blogging goes.


    Dre4dwolf's picture

    The economy sucks balls.

    I am Jobe's picture

    How about Cheap Beer ?

    Shizzmoney's picture

    Awesome report. 

    Cheap beer sales are actually down a bit (although that is data based from over the winter/summer - the sales always usually pick up around football time).  Consumers are looking for more *bang* for their buck, and are more willing to try beer that actually tastes good and gives them a bit more of a buzz with less.  Plus the newer beer consumer (21-30) is more willing to sway away from cheap beer since they probably pounded them in college.  AND I know 2 buddies of mine who have been exploring more micro brewing at home.  The cheap beers that ARE doing well tend to be the low carb ones like Coors Light, Michelob Ultra, etc. as they appeal to a more broad consumer (pun intended).

    Quality, rather than quanitity, is the name of the game for the consumer today (unless its home goods like diapers, textiles, and simple foods.  Think Costco).  People who make a "New Normal" wage are looking to stretch that dollar as much as they can....until the dollar stretches itself into oblivion. 

    Snakeeyes's picture

    Jobless claims were down indicating that seasonal effiect may be bigger than expected. But the rest of the numbers are not so good. See and charts. Q3 GDP and Personal Consuption growth sucked.

    Bernanke’s Plea to Consume (Not Save) and the Conflicting Economic News: The Good, The Not-So-Good and The Expected (Housing)


    The Alarmist's picture

    Tyler should post the Google Trends graph for Zero Hedge along with some of the highlighted search results.

    jackson26's picture

    Such a great stuff. You have given us some interesting information. I appreciate it. I think,  US consumer has really learned the hard way to live under their means. And video is also good.

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