The holiday season kicked off early this year, with a big winter storm in parts of the country. Beautiful, yet treacherous, photographs emerged of cars and neighborhoods entirely submerged in snow; roofs, windows and doors collapsing from the weight of the precipitous precipitation, and once again motorists were stranded on highways and byways. The season began with a veritable wonderland that makes you wonder what it forebodes for winter this year.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “This Aerial Photography Shows Just How Arresting the Snow Storm in Buffalo Is,” from Business Insider, Nov. 20, 2014.]
[CLICK HERE to view, “24 Pictures That Perfectly Capture How Insane the Snow Is Near Buffalo, New York,” from BuzzFeed, Nov. 19, 2014.]
Perhaps inspired by the holiday spirit that the heavy snow emotes — assuming you’re not having to dig yourself out of it — Americans have several things to cheer about this holiday season. With each passing year the economy grows stronger. Inflation remains low and gas prices are down. Real estate prices continue to rebound, and unemployment is back down to relatively normal levels. Many, though not all, shoppers have more discretionary funds to spend on friends and family this year — a sign that bodes well for the economy.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Falling Gas Prices Fuel Holiday Cheer,” from Guggenheim Partners, Nov. 20, 2014.]
[CLICK HERE to view the data, “United States Unemployment Rate 1948-2014,” from Trading Economics, 2014.]
Holiday shopping also seemed to start earlier than usual, just after Halloween. Merchants appear more accommodating this year as well. Black Friday is no longer a one-day event; for some retailers it lasts two to four weeks. Keep in mind a few shopping tips for this year:
- If you find a better price after buying a product, you may be able to take advantage of the “price rewind” tool offered by some of the major credit cards, such as Citi and Discover.
- Sales are expected to be early and brisk this year, so if there’s a must-have item on your list, you may want to purchase it early in case inventories run dry.
- When shopping for clothes, consider that late-season sales can result in discounts of 60 to 70 percent; the same holds true for perennial gifts such as board games.
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