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The Commodification of Christmas

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

By Charlotte Antoinette

This article will explore the commodification of Christmas, in addition to providing suggestions on how to effectively save money during this holiday season.

What is commodity?

A commodity is a good or a service which can be traded, bought or sold in order to obtain financial gain. In relation to Christmas, it is evident that great financial pressures are placed on families in order to join in with the traditional Christmas spirit. From presents to decorations to festive foods. The reliance on Credit Card debt to enjoy Christmas in recent years has enabled businesses to use Christmas as an opportunity to increase profit and sales. This often leads to new sacrifices well into the new year to pay off Christmas Credit Card debt.

The Numbers!

In 2018, according to the Australian Retailers Association, Australian shoppers were predicted to spend over $51 billion across retail stores during the trading period of November 9th to December 24th. This prediction was highly accurate with a total of $51.479 billion spent with the highest proportion of money being $20.9 Billion spent on food. These are all astonishing numbers which highlights to businesses the opportunities that Christmas can provide. Compared to the past, the overall increase from 2017 was 2.9% .

From a Business Perspective:

For many Australian businesses, Christmas is a period of intense growth opportunities and spikes in sales which can enable a business to continue operating for another year. For example, Primark and Marc’s and Spencers were English businesses that were suffering due to the establishment of new competition such as ASOS however, Christmas provided them not only with increased sales and profit, but also boosted share prices. As a result, these businesses were able to continue operation, thus highlighting the importance of the Christmas period for businesses.

Over the “silly season” a temporary increase in employment opportunities are created by businesses in order to accommodate increasing consumer activity. As a result of favourably changing employment rates and spending, encouraging indicators emerge for the new year highlighting the positive outcomes of the commodification of Christmas.

Boxing Day:

Following Christmas, the well-known boxing day sales begins enabling businesses to have a final spike in consumer spending whilst removing old stock for usually discounted prices. Over the 24 hours, according to the Australian Retailer’s Association, $2.5 billion was predicted to be spent in 2018 on Boxing Day with a totalling expenditure of $18.3 billion nationwide from December 26th to January 15th. Evidently, this event also can positively impact the Australian economy, however, inevitably creates further commodification of the Christmas season.

Negatives of the commodification of Christmas

Although the festive seasons increase in expenditure positively helps the economy, there is an evident loss in the true meaning of Christmas irrespective of religion. For Catholics there may be a minimised understanding of the purpose of Christmas and the meaning of birth of Jesus and from other perspectives a decrease in affirmations of appreciation for family and the blessings we have in our everyday lives. Additionally, there can also be a significantly detrimental ideology that is developed through Christmas to children, which is the unconscious idea that what you receive is a measure of how much you are loved. . Materialism is an issue which can manifest through Christmas creating an opportunity for greed to continue throughout the year. Also for many Australian families, Christmas can be a financially difficult time therefore the importance of gifts as an aspect of Christmas can enable negative comparative ideologies between children creating a repeated need for young people to be provided particular gifts in order to ‘fit in’.

Saving money this Christmas

In light of the financial difficulties that are created by Christmas, tips to save money may include:

- Be specific with a budget for each person and in total

- Set a limit with Credit Card spending or Afterpay

- Save ahead of time

- Track all spending

- Shop online identifying the cheapest price balanced with quality

- Download coupon extensions or apps such as Honey, an app providing promotional discounts at online stores

- Be sentimental instead of flashy


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