Monday Morning Quarterbacking 2010 Holiday Sales

present for day after christmas - 2010 holiday salesThe holiday shopping season has been, by most accounts, a smashing success for retailers and consumers. That we're shopping again, and doing it smartly with cash more often then credit, signals both the lifting recession and some significant changes in how and where we spend.

The year isn't officially over, but preliminary sales results for the 2010 holiday season are all positive. Online, in-stores, on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Saturday before Christmas all rang up strong sales compared to the past two years. Not even a huge blizzard will make a big impact on holiday sales, even if it does dampen post Christmas shopping on the East Coast.

Evidence suggests we're paying with cash more, even during the holidays. Strike up a big win for consumers and personal finance writers who advocate staying away from credit cards. It's great to see consumers spending only what they have on hand and paying down debt.
We're also smarter about budgets, shopping sales and planning ahead. If it seemed like holiday sales coverage started earlier this year than ever before, that's because it's true. At WalletPop, Black Friday coverage began in September and there was no shortage of early sales information to report. But there was less panicked discounting then before and a sense that consumers hit stores early and ticked gifts off their lists at a measured pace.

Feedback from readers confirms this. Fewer of you advocated waiting until the last minute, sure that retailers would be slashing prices trying to move merchandise before Dec. 25. Instead, we were all better at using the many new tools at our disposal. Mobile apps and deal aggregator sites like Brad's Deals, Fat Wallet and Dealnews have made us smarter shoppers and taken much of the uncertainty and indecision out of the holiday season.

And for the first time in two years, we didn't only think of others during the holidays. It may seem strange, but in truth, there's nothing wrong with buying yourself a little something every so often. If you, like many of us, buckled down, cut back and denied yourself a favorite pleasure, this holiday marked a return to splurging. Not in a grand "I'll figure out how to pay for this later" kind of way, but more of a small gesture.

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