Late Christmas Shopping, Economic Theory

Article excerpt

It is almost time for me to start my Christmas shopping.

I am not alone. A survey -- called Holiday-ology, of shoppers at Crossroads Mall and other properties owned by Macherich Co. of Santa Monica, Calif. -- showed that 40 percent of shoppers wait until one or two weeks before Christmas to begin shopping and 14.7 percent wait until Christmas Eve.

On the other side of the gift-buying fence are those from the get- every-present-purchased-early school of Christmas shopping. Many of these shoppers started holiday shopping months ago and take pride in being finished by Thanksgiving.

Why wait? One economic theory about holiday shopping contends that the longer consumers wait to start buying, the more concerned major retailers will become. They will start cutting prices quicker and more drastically.

Shoppers from the shop-early school are working against this theory -- big retailers will think sales for the holiday season are going well and will not reduce prices.

For instance, a Christmas present bought in June is not going to be of any use for six months. The shop-late economic theory suggests that, instead of buying the gift during the summer, to put money that would have been better spent in an interest-bearing account and then wait to shop -- at least until mid-December.

Savvy shoppers will have more money to spend and worried major retailers will have already slashed prices, resulting in even bigger bargains.

There is also the risk of buying a Christmas gift for someone in June or July and later realizing that you do not really need to have a present for that person.

For example, you buy a gift in June for your son-in-law -- something that only he would appreciate. In August, your daughter tells you what a #%&* he has become and by Labor Day he is no longer a member of your family. These gifts often become merchandise for a garage sales and are sold for cents on the dollar.

Early shoppers also use the if-I-wait-too-long-all-of-the- popular-stuff-will-be-gone argument.

This is not a concern for late shoppers. We are innovative and creative shoppers. If a particular item is so popular that it is sold out by a week before Christmas, it is too mainstream for us. "Almost everyone will have one of those," we say. "I want to find gifts that are different."

How different?

Party like The Duke

John (The Duke) Wayne lived a lavish life. One of his most cherished possessions was a 136-foot yacht, the Wild Goose.

A World War II minesweeper, custom converted to include a top "party" deck for 150, the Wild Goose was bought by Wayne in 1962. He doubled cabin size, raised headroom to accommodate his height, and included a wet bar, poker table, fireplace and all the comforts you would expect. Now operated by Hornblower Cruises and Events, the Wild Goose is available for special events.

"Aboard, she is truly one of a kind," says Kevin Lorton, director of sales of Hornblower's Los Angeles/Orange County operation. "And, if a client wishes, we can arrange for the very image of John Wayne, his walk, his voice, his smile, to join your party. The Duke passed away in 1979 and this is an impersonator, of course. But a memorable one."

An outing on the Wild Goose would make a memorable gift and impress inlaws.

Betting on a good gift

Finding the proper gift can often be a gamble. How about taking your beloved to Las Vegas for New Year's Eve.

It's being dubbed "The Big Bang," and city officials hope it brings a blast for the bucks. Stung by criticism that its year 2000 celebration fell flat, Las Vegas intends to explode $500,000 worth of fireworks in 10 minutes over its famous Strip and downtown this New Year's Eve.

"Last year, I was being interviewed as the new mayor of the entertainment capital of the world, and I looked out and it was a dud," Mayor Oscar Goodman told The Associated Press. …