The only group of people who do not complain about Christmas items being out in stores are crafters. The earlier seasonal or holiday items are in stores, the more time crafters have to work on things.
Halloween is also an example of a time that people are going back to making their own costumes. There are more than two weeks until Halloween and costume makers have been out in full force buying the materials that they need to make their own costumes.
Making items requires some time, effort and materials, so if you are considering making something, get to your local craft store and get your materials so that you won’t have to rush and make things at the last minute.
Online craft boards and magazines have already been showcasing Fall and Winter items that can be made at home. Sometimes the materials to make an item are expensive plus labor needs to be considered as well. A well crafted item may require inexpensive materials but like a poorly made violin in the hands of a master even inexpensive materials can yield a great result – especially if the materials are on sale.
What’s the greatest way to get consumers to buy your product? Stop charging additional fees. American Express has announced today that the company will no longer charge additional monthly fees on unused cards.
“Customerstold us that monthly fees undermine the value of gift cards, plain and simple,” said Alpesh Chokschi, president of the global prepaid unit, in a statement, which said American Express is now the only issuer of universal gift cards to eliminate all fees after purchase.
The New York based credit card company’s move follows a credit card law that passed earlier this year prohibiting dormancy fees on gift cards, unless they have been inactive for more than a year. The law is set to go into effect in August 2010.
For a company that really listens to its customers this is a strong move. Currently, no other gif card issuer is doing this. Generally store cards do not have an expiration date and most charge no additional fee. American Express does not charge an additional fee if the customer’s gift card is lost or stolen. This is in contrast with Visa gift cards that can charge as much as $2.50 a month a year after the card is issued. To replace a lost card, the cost is $12. American Express charges $2.95-$6.95 per card though last year around the holidays cardholders could purchase Amex gift cards fee free.
This is a definite way to stay competitive.
“Consumers remain quite apprehensive about the short-term outlook and their incomes,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “With the holiday season quickly approaching, this is not very encouraging news.”
So the question is… How are you feeling about spending money for Christmas?
Last Christmas there were fewer new “hot” toys and gadgets and this has also trickled down to this year. People are still concerned about employment and also the tightened credit market.
The majority of retailers go into the black during the Christmas season. Since people have less to spend and tighter credit restrictions, this consumer might end up being royalty again.
How will your spending habits differ this year?
If you haven’t been working or have had a salary cut then you are definitely in the low consumer confidence area. Even if you have a steady job and haven’t had a pay cut, this doesn’t mean that this is the time to spend recklessly. Start budgeting now and if you can, start making Christmas gifts.
Consumer confidence had increased, but that was short lived and due to cash for clunkers. As the holidays roll around, people may spend a little more than usual, but they may not spend as much as they did two or three years ago.