MISSOULA — It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also the most expensive time of the year.
With stores packed with shoppers looking for Black Friday deals, we wondered how much money are people willing -- or able -- to spend on holiday shopping? Turns out in Montana, not that much.
There are a lot of surveys and statistics predicting where we are shopping. The National Chamber of Commerce reports Americans will spend an average of $1,047 on the holidays.
Using an algorithm that takes into account household income, expenses, debt, cost of living, and savings, the Chamber revealed which states can splurge and which states can’t. Maryland, Utah and Hawaii can while West Virginia, Vermont and Montana can’t.
The data shows Montanans discretionary income for the holidays is just $328. The numbers also show that 70% of shoppers can’t, or won’t, spend more than $1,000 on the holidays, but when we do. we shell out the bucks.
The National Retail Federation says holiday shoppers will spend 60% of their budget on gifts for the family and 20% on non-gift items like cards, decorations and food. The rest of the money will be spent on those impulse buys for ourselves -- because sometimes the deals are just too good to pass up.
But it's important to be watch your wallet when shopping for the holidays. WalletHub reports that 35 million Americans still have credit card debt from last holiday season, and nearly one third surveyed say they plan to spend less this year than last.
According to Deloitte Research, people evenly split their money between online shopping and in store shopping but this year, online shopping is poised to surpass in-store purchases and is preferred by shoppers across the board -- from Generation Z to Baby Boomers.
Smaller businesses know they face a formidable foe against that internet and smaller holiday budgets and that’s where events like Small Business Saturday can help. Statistics show that for every dollar spent at a small business about 67 cents stays in the local community, which is why shopping small is such a big deal.
“Small Business Saturday is probably our best day of the year. It triples any other day of the holiday season,” said One Eleven co-owner Paige Livingston. “All of the businesses downtown have gotten on board with that, whether we offer deals or we serve cookies all day or hot cocoa -- we all come together to bring everybody downtown on this day.”
Almost 80% of shoppers surveyed say they’re considering shopping at Small Business Saturday events this year. Meanwhile at the Southgate Mall, extended holiday hours, discounts and special events aim to lure shoppers into the stores.
“We have a great assortment of stores. They are relevant retailers that do a great job and they serve our community very well,” Southgate Mall general manager Tim Winger told MTN News. “We also aren’t just a retail destination, we have entertainment, we have our arcade open now, we have our theater. So, we’re a lot more things than just retail but we have a great line up of retailers that are going to have a great holiday.”
Finally, if you still can't decide what to buy there’s always gift cards. We’ll spend almost $27 billion on those this season.