by Ron Spangler
Holiday shopping this year will in all likelihood remain low for most retailers. With the real unemployment rate hitting a record high of 18% most Americans will be looking for value and less high end consumer products. The major retailers will be concentrating on kids low cost plastic products from China as their number one source for the holiday spending spree. With consumers having very little confidence in the jobs market or the long term future of their particular financial situation they are saving more and spending less.
There will be those that will be buying higher ticket price electronics like big screen televisions and some in the media will highlight these sales as a sign the economy is back and consumer confidence is up. This will be a mistake. Retailers have already reduced the price of items like this and will without a doubt reduce them further. Retailers know the average family will be reluctant to buy one item for $600.00 when they can spend $100.00 on each member of a family of 4 and have more Christmas presents under the tree. With this in mind retailers have increased their inventories of items that are less than $20.00 in an effort to boost sales over the holidays.
The one area the media is overlooking during this period is online sales of crafts made in America and sold directly from the person making the item to the consumer. Long time online stores like Etsy.com usually see a increase in sales every holiday season. This may be the year they exceed normal seasonal sales records. This site is well known for high quality low cost American made items with a vast category to choose from. Americans are demanding more for their money and are looking for things that will last long after Christmas day. With all of the recalls that have been announced lately American consumers are becoming leery of cheep imports and turning away from the throw away disposable products that flooded the American markets for the last 10 to 15 years.
If you look at this period of time you will notice that everything from electronics to construction products have made with a built in life expectancy. When the product reaches the end of its life expectancy it became far cheaper to throw it away than the cost of having it repaired. In the case of electronics like televisions, stereos, cell phones, computer game systems and more, the consumer will be lucky to find anyone capable of repairing the item simply because the parts are obsolete shortly after the item leaves the manufacturer.
In today's atmosphere people are turning away from this mindset and are looking to the past. They are beginning to look for American products that will last from generation to generation and can be passed down from one family to the next. At one time in our not so distant past we called these products family heirlooms. Craft sites like Etsy pride themselves in this type of consumer products. As sites like this receive more market and media attention I believe more Americans will be buying more products online than they ever purchased in the past. If you are a consumer looking for quality, value and products made in America by individual American craftsmen and women (including artists) I would encourage you to shop online at craft sites like Etsy.