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How Americans are $pending Christmas

News reports about crime can make you worry about the integrity of your home security strategy. News reports about holiday shopping raise similar concerns about the integrity of your bank account.

Cost of Christmas 2012

Every November and December, millions of consumers spend billions of dollars. The National Retail Federation projects the average American will spend $749.51 on all holiday-related expenses this year, including gifts, decorations and food.

Gifts make up nearly three-quarters of that total, accounting for $548.56. Most of the gift money will be spent on family members — $421.82.

The opening bell for this nationwide spending spree is Black Friday, when consumers open their wallets wide and the shopping scene sometimes gets a little crazy.

Consumerism, criticism and economics

At this time of year, the only thing louder than the beeping of cash registers is the criticism.

A number of commentators, public figures and everyday folks condemn all this spending. They say that rampant consumerism has cheapened what should be a season of spirituality and reverence.

The companies, merchants and retail workers who benefit from the holiday spending surge might have a different take — as would the U.S. economy.

The National Retail Federation estimated $469 billion in holiday spending for 2011. Philosophy aside, the holiday shopping season has a large, undeniable impact on the country’s economic well-being.

Tis the season?

For better or worse, Christmas and commercialism remain intertwined. Everybody knows that the best gifts come from the heart, but it doesn’t mean we can't appreciate something nice from the mall every now and then.

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