‘Christmas creep’ wants you!

newsroom@tri-statedefender.com | 10/25/2014, 12:15 p.m.

During the third quarter of this year, spending was more sluggish than expected, so much so that some retailers are adjusting their spending forecasts downward.  Some may even have less inventory on hard so that prices might rise a bit from demand. When toy retailers, for example, have shortages in this year’s popular toy, parents are likely to make return trips to a store both to check on the coveted toy and to buy “just one more thing” for children.  And despite sluggish spending, the post-Thanksgiving Day stampedes are not a thing of the past when they are properly marketed.

This heavy Christmas marketing has a special impact on African-American consumers, those who have less income, more debt, and a likelihood of overspending during holidays because “stuff” means “love” for some. The Christmas creep gives youngsters more time to whine and cajole for “stuff” and places parents under more pressure to spend.  While the spending may help stimulate the economy, it will depress the financial standing of those who participate in the spending game.

…African Americans are the ones who can least afford to play this game. One in eight has nothing – no savings, no investments; no tangible belongings (automobiles, for example).  Fewer than half (compared to 70 percent of whites) own their homes – the primary path to wealth accumulation for the middle class. About half have “bad” debt, or credit card debt.  Few have saved for future tuition payments or retirement. Yet, some of these folks will queue up to spend money, all in the name of a Christmas shopping season that starts in October.

The holiday season is a good time to convey a series of economic and community building messages to African Americans. First, can you afford the holiday spending?  Second, if you must shop, do some of your spending with Black-owned businesses. …

Third, it ought to go without saying, but don’t pay full price for anything, especially at the end of the year. … Fourth, you can build community and affinity by giving someone the gift of a contribution to their favorite charity. … Fifth, use your 2014 holiday spending as a way to develop a budget for holiday 2015.

Christmas at Halloween?  Only if you buy into the spending game, you will get tricked and predatory retailers treated by your behavior.

 (NNPA columnist Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer.)