I’m self-gifting this year, and I don’t intend to feel guilty about it.
The term is shorthand for buying for yourself, which more and more shoppers are expected to do this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.
The trade group says its annual survey shows that about six in 10 respondents plan to pick up something for themselves while they’re shopping for others. They’ll spend close to $140 on self-gifting — about a quarter of their holiday gift-buying budget — which the NRF says would be a high-water mark in the survey’s 10-year history.
“Our research shows that millions of people plan to take advantage of retailers’ holiday sales and promotions to buy nongift items for themselves or their families,” NRF spokeswoman Kathy Grannis said in a post on the group’s blog. “Do you really think people are standing in line at midnight to buy discounted 55-inch televisions for their children or their parents? Highly unlikely.”
Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, sees the influences of the recession and the self-esteem movement in the growth of self-gifting.
Writing on the topic in Time magazine last month, she said retailers responded to consumers scaling way back on purchases in 2009 by offering deeper discounts earlier in the holiday season in subsequent years. “Just as we’ve been conditioned to associate the smell of pine needles and the sight of twinkling houses with the holidays, we’re now more accustomed than ever to associate the holidays with massive bargains,” she wrote.
And thanks to “an increasingly ‘me-centric’ society,” Yarrow said, “shopping for yourself while shopping for others is simply more acceptable today.”
My foray into self-gifting began innocently enough when I went clothes shopping on Black Friday with my two daughters, who were home for Thanksgiving and wanted to replace/augment closet staples.
I intended to be their adviser on color and fit. But seeing a sweater discounted by 50 percent at one retailer — something I needed as the weather turned colder — I snapped it up, fi guring I’d do no better in an afterholiday sale. The same rationale also led to the purchase of a pair of deeply discounted jeans at another store.
And then came the subsequent self-gifting opportunities: The sweater purchase yielded a button at checkout, which, when registered at the retailer’s website, produced a $10 gift certificate. I used that to replace a worn-out belt for the jeans. And the jeans, when combined with one daughter’s purchase of boots, earned $15 in store “cash” that I used a week later to buy a longsleeved T-shirt to wear under the sweater.
The combination of discounts meant my self-gifting was guiltfree.
I also was successful in getting my husband to indulge me in a variation of self-gifting, or what the NRF survey calls “non-gift” giving: buying him a new pair of shoes for work.
He spends a lot of time on his feet and one pair of shoes had become uncomfortable. So as we shopped for Christmas gifts for the family, he picked out a new pair of shoes for himself.
Sure, there’ll be no element of surprise when he unwraps them (unless, of course, he forgets we bought them), but there also will be no letdown from a so-so gift that needs to be returned.
And the bonus was additional store “cash” that I can use for more self-gifting.