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By
Reuters
Published
Nov 29, 2009
Reading time
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No regrets as shoppers cut holiday gift lists

By
Reuters
Published
Nov 29, 2009

By Michele Gershberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In-laws, second cousins once removed and friends who don't respond to e-mails are all off the gift list this year.




Americans turned out in force this weekend to shop for Black Friday deals, some of them purchasing clothes or electronics for themselves after months of scrimping.

Many said they had shortened their holiday gift lists this year out of necessity, but had few regrets doing so because of a weak economy. Others said it was a good time to take stock of who should get a present and why they deserved one.

Ayanna Brown, who lost her job as a bookkeeper at a legal firm last year, is cutting "anybody old enough to get a job" from her Christmas gift list.

"Around Christmas you have to splurge on the kids, so the grown-ups understand," she said while shopping at a Brooklyn mall.

Lillian Shine, an administrator at a nonprofit organization in Oakland, Calif., removed co-workers and extended family from her shopping plans and said she would make her own candy to hand out to other loved ones.

She is sure her colleagues won't feel slighted as they await a city budget decision.

"We're trying to brace ourselves for what may come" she said. "We may have our funding cut."

In the free-wheeling years of easy credit and soaring home values, "everybody's list got bigger and bigger," said Marshal Cohen, senior analyst at retail consultancy NPD Group.

"This year the list is going to be shorter but the things on the list aren't any less expensive," he said. Asked who is most commonly left in the cold, he said: "In-laws."

"I speak to consumers way too much ... and that's the most consistent answer I get," he said.

FAMILY LOTTERY

Some families found creative ways to ease the spending burden on relatives. Don Calvert in Washington, D.C. said his girlfriend's family agreed on a lottery of sorts, where each member was responsible for buying one relative a gift worth $30 or less.

Andrea Mowers of Mesa, Arizona, drew names out of a pool of extended family members to make the choice easier.

Paula Smith, who had joined Mowers for a 14-hour Black Friday shopping road trip, plans to buy gifts for two foster children she linked up with through an organization and would have no stocking stuffers for friends.

"All of my friends, we agreed there was no exchanging gifts," she said. "We all own a lot of stuff."

Debra Diriwachter in New York struck "a friend who has not been in touch" off her list.

And in Springfield, Pennsylvania, Chris Amalfitama said there was no point splurging on someone if they didn't know enough to appreciate it.

"I have nieces and I could drop $100 each on them and six months later they wouldn't remember who bought them the gift," he said. "So I'm spending significantly less on them."

(Reporting by Phil Wahba and Dhanya Skariachan in New York, Diane Bartz in Washington, Nicole Maestri in San Francisco, Brad Dorfman in Scottsdale, Arizona, Tom Hals in Springfield, Pennsylvania)

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