In light of the economy, how will your holiday season be different this year?
November 30th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

In light of the economy, how will your holiday season be different this year?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A Merry Christmas may be harder to come by this holiday season for millions of Americans in light of the slumping economy.

A new CBS News poll shows one in two Americans are concerned they won't be able to afford the holiday gifts they would like to buy.

One-third say they're feeling more stress about holiday spending this year than they have in years past.

And overall, 4 in 10 people say they plan to spend less money on gifts this year than last.

For sure, the holidays are about much more than gift-giving, but how's this for a sign of the times:

Santa Clauses are learning how to lower children's expectations when it comes to their wish lists.

The New York Times has a terrific piece on a well-known Michigan school for Santa Clauses.

The Santas talk about how they size up a family's finances and then try to scale back the child's gift requests.

They talk of parents standing off to the side and shaking their heads no - while the kids sit on their laps asking for expensive toys.

One Santa says the bottom line is to "never promise anything," while others tell the children about slower toy production at the North Pole - or that Santa rarely brings everything on a list.

These Santas are also learning how to answer a question they're hearing more often this days: Can you bring my Mom or Dad a job?

Other children's expectations are running smack into today's economic reality. One boy recently asked a Santa for only one thing - a pair of sneakers that fit.

Here’s my question to you: In light of the economy, how will your holiday season be different this year?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: Economy • Holidays
November 29th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Black Friday stampedes, arrests and fights; what's happened to us?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The holiday season is upon us - and by the looks of things, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

Some of the behavior on display as Americans hit the stores for Black Friday deals was downright disgusting, including stampedes, arrests and fights. And it’s all in the name of buying holiday gifts for our loved ones.

Here are some reports from what happened at stores around the country:

  • In Georgia, a Marine reservist was stabbed when he tried to help stop a suspected shoplifter. The Marine was one of four servicemen stationed outside a Best Buy collecting Toys for Tots.
  • In Los Angeles, California, the Sheriff's Department had to temporarily put part of one shopping mall on lockdown after a fight in the food court.
  • An Indiana woman was arrested after fighting with other shoppers at a Walmart checkout. Police say customers were fighting about a person accused of cutting in line.
  • Another woman was arrested in Wisconsin. Police say she threatened other shoppers while waiting in line at a Toys R Us store. They say she tried to cut pass several hundred shoppers waiting in line. When she was confronted, the woman threatened to get a gun and shoot the other shoppers.
  • At yet another Wisconsin Toys R Us, thousands of people waiting in line rushed the doors when they opened. The store's employees had to lock the doors and call police. Customers waiting for hours reportedly chanted "end of line" to those just showing up.

Merry Christmas!

Here’s my question to you: In light of stampedes, arrests, and fights on Black Friday, what has happened to us?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Holidays • Spending
November 24th, 2010
02:26 PM ET

Spend more or less on holiday gifts this year?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As soon as the Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie are polished off – millions of Americans turn their attention to Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

What's yet to be seen is how the shaky economy and troubling forecasts are going to effect holiday spending this year.

The Federal Reserve now says to expect weak economic recovery for several years. Some policy makers say it could take 6 years – or longer – before unemployment, growth and inflation return to more normal levels.

Meanwhile, taxes are set to go up for 90 percent of Americans if the "Making Work Pay" tax credit expires at the end of the year.

Never mind all that. The American consumer is apparently ready to spend.

A survey by the National Retail Federation shows people plan to spend about $689 on holiday-related shopping this year. That's up about $7 from last year.

They say most of that money will be spent on gifts for friends and family. The rest of it will go to co-workers, decorations, food, candy and flowers.

The survey shows the $393 that consumers plan to spend on family and friends is the highest it's been since before the recession hit.

But partly because of the recession, consumers are still looking for bargains, which is why many stores started promoting their Black Friday sales right after Halloween. These discounts usually drop prices by 20 to 30 percent.

Here’s my question to you: Do you plan to spend more or less on holiday gifts than in years past?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Economy • Holidays