What’s Your Holiday Shopping IQ?

      .  Now is a good time for a quick lesson in consumer behavior. So in the spirit of that annual rite of passage for college-bound students, here is the inaugural Consumer Spending Aptitude Test or CSATs.

Question 1:

Complete the following sentence with the best answer.

It’s the most ____________ time of the year.

  1. Wonderful
  2. Hopeful
  3. Anxious
  4. Over-hyped
  5. All of the above

The correct answer is E, all of the above.

With inflation concerns still fueling consumer and business anxiety and supply chain issues looming over holiday sales events, how the holiday shopping season plays out is anyone’s guess. But it is also a season of hope and joy and that cannot be overstated. It is also a time where we are flooded with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday pitches to fill out our wish lists and shopping obligations.

Question 2:

Select the answer that best fits the following.

Consumer spending is to the economy as _____________

  1. Peanut butter is to jelly
  2. Peas are to carrots
  3. Love is to hate
  4. Dreams are to reality
  5. All of the above

The correct answer is E, all of the above.

Consumer spending accounts for nearly two-thirds of the nation’s gross domestic product and while consumers are concerned about the state of the economy and the possibility of a recession, they are nonetheless consuming. October consumer spending was up 1.3% and holiday sales are projected to rise 4 to 6% over the 2021 holiday shopping season.

But the relationship between consumer spending and economic growth is complicated and consumer behavior is harder to predict than many economists make it seem to be. Nevertheless, from all appearances, consumers seem determined to celebrate the holidays with gusto, whether that is as one last bright spot before the gloom of a recession hits or a sign of the economy’s underlying resiliency in the face of troubling trends.

Question 3

Consumer A leaves the Sunburst Mall at 3 p.m. to meet friends for hot chocolate at a shop 20 miles away. Consumer B departs from the Amazon pick-up location at 3:15 p.m. to grab a festive coffee at the Starbucks next to the hot chocolate shop 5 miles away. Which consumer finishes their holiday shopping first?

  1. Consumer A hits all the stoplights and is delayed, arriving after Consumer B.
  2. Consumer B gets caught at a rail crossing and arrives after Consumer A.
  3. Consumer A and Consumer B arrive at the same time but Consumer A finds a parking place first.
  4. Neither finish their shopping due to supply chain issues and shipping delays.

The correct answer is D, neither finish their holiday shopping. Instead, they purchase instant lottery tickets and gift cards to round out their respective lists. Given the uncertain nature of retail sales and changing consumer tastes, many consumers will likely need to find alternative gifts to complete their holiday shopping. That means lots of gift card purchases, which will not factor into holiday sales totals for November and December as gift cards are only counted as purchases when they are redeemed, usually in January.

Question 4

What is Homer saying in the following quote from “The Odyssey?”

“So, surrender to sleep at last. What a misery, keeping watch through the night, wide awake — you’ll soon come up from under all your troubles.”

  1. Don’t worry, be happy
  2. Most adults need eight hours of sleep
  3. There is no need to get up at dawn for holiday sales
  4. Everything will work out in the end
  5. All of the above

The correct answer is E, all of the above. And perhaps it is the most important lesson the Consumer Spending Aptitude Test offers. Despite worries about inflation, recession and the overall state of the economy, the holiday season is a time to enjoy friends and family and reflect on the past year and the days ahead––and to make sure you find the perfect gift for that someone special.