Americans love a good shopping holiday. If we can find a reason to purchase, we'll gladly take it. So why isn't Boxing Day an official holiday in the United States? The Canadians embrace it and so do the Brits, the Irish, the Australians and a whole lot of other European countries. Again, why not Americans? (For related reading, take a look at Preparing For Black Friday.)
IN PICTURES: 8 Easy Ways To Slash Your Holiday Budget
A Brief History of Boxing Day
Maybe we don't have it in America because we don't know about it, so here's a little bit of history. Some believe that Boxing Day has its roots back in the Middle Ages. Christmas was a big party day for the rich. Extended families and friends would come over for Christmas dinner and accompanying festivities. These parties required the labor of the servants and as a result, the servants didn't get a Christmas holiday of their own. Instead, servants were given the following day off and, to say thanks, their employers would give them gift boxes - this is where some historians believe "Boxing" Day was born.
Modern Boxing Day takes place on December 26, the day after Christmas. It's largely a shopping based holiday and another day off of work for many. We've prepared a few arguments for why the United States needs Boxing Day.
What if American consumers were given a day off of work in order to head to the stores to spend? Stores would embrace it by turning up the heat on those "unbelievable after-Christmas markdowns" and we would take advantage of those stores who still have too much inventory on those shelves. In 2009, an estimated 12 million people flocked to the stores in the U.K. on Boxing Day, a 20% increase from the previous year!
The Benefit of Being Selfish
All of us, while shopping for others, find must-have items at the stores that we would love to purchase for ourselves, but feel too guilty. One survey shows that only 11% of the population is planning to spend more this year than they did last year. When asked why, consumers cited the tough economic climate, foreclosures, credit card debt and a general dissatisfaction with the American economy. If that's true most of us will spend what money we're willing to part with on our children and other loved ones.
That's where Boxing Day comes in! In countries where Boxing Day is celebrated, it is more of a selfish holiday than the days preceding it where buying for others is the focus. Boxing Day could be a day when Americans spend a little extra and buy themselves something nice.
IN PICTURES: 5 Ways To Control Emotional Spending
Spend Your Gift Cards
Part of the American Boxing Day law should require that stores have to keep some of the good stuff in stock because we'll be out in force with our gift cards. In the first half of 2010, the amount of gift cards purchased increased 4.6% over the second half of 2009. Not only that, the average amount of money put on to a gift card increase 2% to $33.73.
Analyst Brian Riley estimates U.S. consumers will spend approximately $92 billion using gift cards in 2010. That compares with $88 billion last year, down from a peak of $97 billion in 2007. Why are gift cards back in the good graces of consumers? Because the new credit card laws which went in to effect in 2010. Gift cards issued after Aug. 22 must have expiration dates that are at least five years from their date of purchase. (In addition to gift cards, learn how these new regulations affect your credit card in How Your Credit Card Is Changing.)
It's Only Fair
If one of your arguments against this is that the Canadians aren't adopting anything we do, fear not. They are! Black Friday is catching on with our neighbors to the north probably because they noticed that in United States, Black Friday accounted for 6.4% of holiday sales in 2009. Because the Thanksgiving holiday falls much earlier in Canada, Black Friday never made sense before. However, American spending fever is spreading North and Canadian retailers are starting to catch. It's only fair that we take on Boxing Day.
The Bottom Line
We could make this work. Americans need a day where they can spoil themselves after spending more than a month thinking only of others. Boxing Day is the answer. What's the next thing we're going after? Shorter work weeks! (For additional reading, see 5 Money-Saving Shopping Tips.)
Find out what happened in financial news this week. Read Water Cooler Finance: GM's Dramatic Return.
Stock AnalysisLearn about three value stocks Warren Buffett holds in his portfolio. See how Buffett uses market declines to find good deals on stocks.
Stock AnalysisLearn about the top six companies that make an attractive investment for investors looking for stocks for dividend income investing.
Mutual Funds & ETFsObtain information on, and analysis of, some of the best performing mutual funds that offer exposure to the consumer cyclicals sector.
Stock AnalysisFind out which risks are most important to Amazon's shareholders. Learn which operational risks impact share prices and which financial risks affect investors.
Stock AnalysisLearn how Jet.com is taking on retail giants Amazon, Walmart and Costco by promising to save customers an average of 10 to 15% on over 10 million items.
Stock AnalysisIf you want to buck the bear market trend by going long on consumer stocks, these three might be your best bets.
Investing NewsThere’s no way to guarantee that your Social Security number won’t fall into the wrong hands. Here are some ways to make yourself less of a target.
Stock AnalysisLearn how the startup Casper is delivering a good night's sleep directly to customers' homes for a fraction of the cost of the competition.
Stock AnalysisUnderstand the current Best Buy model and why it has been failing lately. Learn about the top potential catalysts that could increase Best Buy's stock price.
Mutual Funds & ETFsExplore analysis of the iShares Global Consumer Discretionary ETF, and learn about the suitability of this fund that tracks the consumer discretionary sector.
Electronic retail is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. Every year, more people are choosing to purchase ... Read Full Answer >>
Just-in-time (JIT) inventory management focuses solely on the need to replenish inventory only when it is required, reducing ... Read Full Answer >>
There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
Companies that operate in the retail sector significantly differ in terms of their profitability and efficiency, making stock ... Read Full Answer >>
Ethical investors have many reasons to consider companies in the retail sector. The sector is broad and features an abundance ... Read Full Answer >>