Workzone: Consumers a mixed bag near holidays, poll finds
Amanda Godley used to make all sorts of crafts and projects for the people on her holiday gift list.
She made photo albums and sewed presents. One year, she found a craft clock to build for her family members.
That was then.
Now she is a full-time professor of English education at the University of Pittsburgh. She is one of four drivers in her son's carpool to musical theater while her daughter is involved in basketball and soccer. This fall, she and her husband trained for and ran a marathon.
The time she once spent selecting the right fabrics is long gone.
Now she does what so many workers do: She fits her holiday preparations around everything else.
At least, as a professor, the semester is over and "I can squeeze in shopping between grading and meetings," she said.
"If I find a gift online, I try to think of how many people can I buy this for."
A little over a week ago, a poll by the NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based information company, and CivicScience, an East Liberty-based data research company, found that 41 percent of all Christmas shoppers had not started their shopping yet.
Those people who had not started shopping can look enviously to the 15 percent of consumers who reported they had completed their shopping. That was just slightly more than the 13 percent who said they wouldn't start shopping until the final 10 days before Christmas.
Ross McGowan, CivicScience's director of Data Science, said shoppers this year aren't just out to get a surprise for someone special, 30 percent of them are buying something special for themselves, too.
People also reported they were buying more gifts online and giving gift cards instead of picking out presents.
Despite a large, daily influx of commuters, Downtown shopping remains a weather-related activity.
Samuel Cournoyer of Chicago, who is manning the Alpine Heritage hut in Market Square, said when it rains the shoppers are gone, but when the weather is nice there are good weekday crowds.
"A lot of people say 'I've got to go, I'm on my lunch break,' " he said. He finds that after a look or two at lunch, the same shoppers return to buy something later.
Tina Lowers, regional manager of the Crazy Mocha coffee shops Downtown, said one of the benefits of her job this time of year is the proximity to shopping.
While making her rounds of Crazy Mocha locations, she said, "I'll hit Macy's and Burlington [Coat Factory]. And there's that line of smaller stores on Fifth Avenue."
But as of last week, Ms. Lowers was a member of the 15 percent who didn't plan to start shopping until the last 10 days.
First Published December 16, 2012 12:00 am