The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson speculates that our Christmas-centered consumerism might actually be hurting our economy rather than helping. The author believes that by saving all of our pent-up shopping urges for the last sixth of the year, we are depriving ourselves of our desires during the remainder of the year, end up making forced purchases and creating an unfriendly environment for retailers (NYSEARCA:XRT).
Thompson cited an article from the Wall Street Journal by Mark Whitehouse that read, “In the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey, more than two of three economists opined that if Christmas ceased to exist as a holiday, consumers would either spend more on themselves or spread their gift purchases more evenly across other events such as birthdays. That, in the view of some academics, would put more goods into the hands of people who truly value them and improve social welfare as a result.”
The only bright spot in the whole Christmas hoopla is that we often buy bad gifts. If we buy our loved ones things that they don’t actually want, we’ve put money into the economy that might not have been there otherwise.
Chances are, our friends and family will still go get the loot that they really wanted and either shove our gifts to the back of their closet or maybe even throw them on eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), and the consumerism continues. “In a weird way, the inefficiency of gift giving might be good for a weak economy,” writes Thompson.