Fun Friday: Holiday Shopping

Between Black Friday and Cybermonday, it would seem that the big holiday shopping days have already come and gone.

I saw a report this week with holiday shopping market shares for the 2016 holiday season. Are we already done with this year end burst of ecommerce and can now report the winners and losers?

For Fun Friday I thought we’d do a Twitter poll to see what percent of the AVC community has completed their holiday shopping already vs those who procrastinate until the last minute.

In my case, I don’t do a lot of holiday shopping. It’s not that I’m Ebenezer Scrooge, but I prefer to give as often as possible throughout the year and not do all of my giving at the end of the year.

#Random Posts

Comments (Archived):

  1. Mike Zamansky

    Fred, you need an option for what you do.Showing thanks, appreciation, affection, shouldn’t be bound to specific calendar dates.

  2. LIAD

    would have liked a 3rd option on the poll:’Conscientious Objector: Fundamentally disagree with the commercialised hijacking and consumption frenzied nature of the holiday season’

    1. fredwilson

      I am not far from where you are

    2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Agreed – to the extent we do not send even greetings cards and believe that helping someone to realise that their value to their family and friends is almost wholly unrelated to how much they spend.On the other hand, time spent with a lonely relative or neighbour, a helping hand, a commitment to support in education and so on – these can make a lasting difference.Reasoning – I had a stage where I felt depressed and humiliated because I could not give what I wanted to. I later realised I was judging others in the quality of the love they gave me – it was in fact unconditional.Surprise – my nephews and nieces, mother, sisters and direct family still loved me, when I had nothing (material) to offer.Giving is NOT a competition. Competitive giving is obscene. Giving is WONDERFUL.

      1. Dan T

        I’m not a fan of the commercialization – – EXCEPT that I have grown to really enjoy holiday cards – my wife and I have moved around a bit – Charlotte 9 years, Philly 17 years and South Florida now for 4 years. Holiday cards are a great snapshot of the families that we have gotten to know, but don’t see on a regular basis – or at all – any more. I really enjoy looking back at our own cards – with our kids now being 17, 17, 15 and 13 – the changes are amazing every year.

      2. LE

        Reasoning – I had a stage where I felt depressed and humiliated because I could not give what I wanted to. I later realised I was judging others in the quality of the love they gave me – it was in fact unconditional.Exactly my point #3 in my comment. Societal pressure to conform.I had a situation when I was growing up and my father insisted that I go and sit next to him in synagogue because his brother always had his two sons sitting next to him. And my Dad couldn’t deal with the evil eye of his older brother and the judgmental nature of the experience. So I suffered a considerable negative in what already was a marginal and boring experience.

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          OTOH – One could argue, that you took your circumstances (undesirable at the time), put them to good use (learning) and found the foundations of your value system.In principle I guess that was what you were meant to be doing.IMHO there is a place for moral and ethical training, and it may be formal or relaxed, but the important thing is that you engage,Critical exploration often enables a meta-thing – eg learning to learn.Who would have thought ? πŸ™‚

          1. LE

            Not sure if this is what you meant by “upside” but what it taught me was that sitting in synagogue is a total waste of my time. It may not be a waste of someone else’s time (or some “old lady”) or someone who needs that “spiritual” thing (I don’t) but for me it’s boring and a waste and quite frankly I have better things to do than sit there and repeat the same things over and over again. Every week or even every month. Plus it’s all about money in many shuls as any Jew will tell you.In Judaism when someone dies you are supposed to say a prayer everyday at synagogue which is what my cousin did after his father died. Got up early every morning and went to shul and said that prayer for a year. When my father died I did no such thing and didn’t even consider doing it. My cousin is brainwashed and of course could never escape the guilt of complying with that arbitrary requirement. My brain has no guilt at all so I didn’t miss a beat on that one.

          2. JLM

            .Not quite on point with what you are saying but if you have ever known real fear or been directly responsible for someone’s death, you will come to learn how to pray.Prayer can provide comfort. It has to me. It brought me peace when there was no other possible mechanism. It did not solve anything but it allowed me to live with the pain.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. LE

            I agree with what you say are the helpful benefits for some people (such as yourself). My only issue is when people force those behaviors on others who don’t need the help or don’t feel the same way. And I question the value of my cousin doing what he did every single morning for 1 year. I think he did that out of guilt not for comfort as you are saying. He should spend that time on his health and exercise (which he does not do) instead of religion.if you have ever known real fearNot to minimize the true pain that you felt but the only time honestly that I knew true fear was when I thought there was a bad medical result from a test (was a mistake) and also when I thought my high school girlfriend was pregnant (and she was not).

          4. JLM

            .There is a difference between ritual and prayer. It is easy to confuse. Believe me, having been raised a Catholic, there is almost nothing as powerful as ritual driven by Catholic guilt. I can still recite from memory the Act of Contrition at the end of the Confessional sacrament.The kind of prayer I am talking about is when you have nowhere else rational to go. When you are so far adrift there is no land in sight. When you wonder if you will ever be grounded again.The kind of fear I am talking about is when you are in instant distance of losing your life or looking at the results of a decision you have just made which has cost someone their life and you know you fucked it up but your did you best. It is made all the worse by knowing you would likely make that same damn decision again. Then you begin to doubt who you are.What you are describing is “awkward” not real fear. I hope you never experience it. It can be shattering.Happy holidays, to us both, my friend.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      3. ShanaC

        Some people I give to charity in their names. I like giving gifts though, usually homemade ones. (cookies!!!)Along with time, and all the other things

    3. LE

      Personally, and as a someone who doesn’t celebrate that holiday, I look at it this way. Those people buying all of those goods and services end up lowering the price when I want to buy something! Mass production and consumption in action.However the downsides are numerous including:1) People end up spending and even borrowing to buy gifts for others and themselves with money they should not be spending. I mean it’s really out of hand all of the gifts people who have no money end up buying. Certainly one of the reasons they live paycheck to paycheck is that culture of simply being weak and feeling pressured to fit in with the pack.2) Work during the month essentially slows down greatly and even stops. Everyone wants to put off business until “after the holidays”. It’s harder to get someone on the phone or to setup a meeting. I wanted to order kitchen cabinets and get them installed and was told “forget it with the holidays not going to happen”.3) It’s annoying to hear all of the people whine about how they will be missing Christmas (in cases where they will be) and idea drilled into them and making them feel inferior if they are away from their families or can’t celebrate or have to work.) [1]4) Low life fights in Walmart and Target over Plasma TV’s.[1] To wit at Rite Aid I asked the Indian Pharmacist working on Thanksgiving if she got paid extra. Answer was “part of the job” and it didn’t seem to bother her. Same question to the cashier “well I better be paid extra because I can’t spend time with my family today” (as if it’s the only day of the year that she can spend time with her family).

      1. Richard

        The bigger question is why does digging holes and refilling them not help the economy but purchasing holiday gifts, year after year, arguably does.

        1. LE

          Simple. Purchasing gifts has a multiplier effect on the economy with the money spent more so than digging holes.In the end all money really does end up as being paid in labor in someone’s pocket or profit. [1] So I would posit (and I am sure some economist would agree) that a dollar spent on holiday gifts has more of a multiplier effect than paying someone to dig holes and refill them with dirt.[1] Really. Boil down anything and it all comes down to labor and profit. Even raw materials in a car or a prostitute can be boiled down to labor and profit in someone’s pocket in varying degrees somewhere along the chain down to the raw materials.

    4. Vasudev Ram

      That commercialization trend has become huge in India too. (Was not so much like that some years ago.) Customers, of course, lap it up and fall prey to the vendors’ schemes.

    5. Richard

      On the other hand, the holidays get a lot of free PR from advertisers et al.

    6. Drew Meyers


    7. PhilipSugar

      Giving everything but things (stuff) is the most important. Experience, time, and self.

  3. William Mougayar

    Although US Cyber Monday sales have been reported at $3B, China’s Singles Day, a made-up day by Alibaba 7 years ago, just grossed $14B on Nov. 11th.

    1. awaldstein

      All of these are made up William.

      1. William Mougayar

        The interesting part about the Alibaba one is that it was made-up just 7 years ago! Insane numbers…

        1. awaldstein

          The westernization of the far east is a massive business.

          1. pointsnfigures

            American core values and capitalism are sticky

          2. awaldstein

            it is core to human psyche to create occasions, to celebrate ourselves, to create heroes, to spoil those we love.American brands simply get this and exporting it will be met with frictionless adoption.Taking this piece and twisting it for fundraising for causes is a new frontier. A huge one.I know I’m right on this one.

          3. pointsnfigures

            We agree. Just read the book Washington’s Crossing. Every American should read the Conclusion chapter. It really sums up why America is what it is.Here is what John Adams said in 1776 which was a horribly dark year for America even though we celebrate it today, I know of no Policy, God as my witness, but this-Piety, Humanity and Honesty are the best policy. Blasphemy, Cruelty, and Villainy have prevailed and may again. But they won’t prevail against America, in this Contest because I find the more of them employed, the less they succeedIt’s core to being an American. It’s why people want to come here. Adopting of American brands will help them appear and feel more American.

          4. JLM

            .One of my favorite books. How does Geo. Washington decide, after getting his ass kicked across Long Island, Manhattan, Harlem, the Heights, and behind the Delaware, to launch an amphibious double envelopment on Trenton against the Hessians who had never lost an engagement against him?Where does that freakin’ genius come from? Those great big brass balls?Then, after he takes Trenton — southern end of the amphibious double envelopment fails but he still prevails — he tricks Cornwallis and takes Princeton capturing their loot.This was the best America victory ever. Ever.George (No Middle Name) Washington was the Father of our Country and a freakin’ military genius.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. pointsnfigures

            Darn. I was going to get you that book for Christmas…..heh. George Washington is the one person I would want to have dinner with dead or alive from human history. Amazing guy.

          6. JLM

            .If you invite me, I’ll bring Winston Churchill and pick up the tab.Merry Christmas!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          7. Lawrence Brass

            If you convince Sir Winston to go and points agree, I will cook and serve the dishes for free.Please note that I have recently acquired the ability to make and cook Beef Wellington, which has been said to be on his favourites list.

    2. Cam MacRae

      Alibaba didn’t make it up. They co-opted an existing celebration and made it bigger.

      1. William Mougayar

        Made-up the online part, so they own that, no?

        1. awaldstein

          You are right.

        2. Cam MacRae

          Yep. Cheeky bastards even trademarked it.

      2. awaldstein

        Same thing.

  4. Tom Labus

    I have to get fired up sometime around the 20th to even consider going to a mall. Drinks required.

    1. Anne Libby

      Don’t do it! Write down some stories of your childhood, or about your parents or grandparents. Much better than whatever os left at the mall.

      1. Tom Labus

        Good point. But can we still have drinks?

        1. Anne Libby

          Of course. Drinks and no mall? Win.

          1. pointsnfigures

            Drinks sometimes make the writing easier.

  5. awaldstein

    I do very little and am a bit boring.Negotiated a discount with a local wine shop and create a private post on why I choose these bottles of natural wine and send to a small group of friends and employees.Happy holidays all!

    1. Cam MacRae

      Wine is such a great gift.

      1. awaldstein

        These come with me personally sharing the story of why I love them.

        1. Cam MacRae

          Even better.

      2. LE

        For someone who is a wine drinker. But I will admit that a gift of a bottle of wine is a good way to convey more value for the $$ spent than you really did actually spend. Most people aren’t familiar with what any particular wine costs and probably aren’t going to go to the trouble of checking the price.This year the person who cuts my hair will get a bottle of Patron. I know that she drinks that and it has a better impact for the $$ spent (roughly $45) then a Panera Gift card. And the box and labeling are classy to boot.

        1. Cam MacRae

          There are people who don’t drink wine? Sounds miserable.

          1. LE

            As I have mentioned I didn’t drink at all in college (and I do mean at all) and really didn’t actually start drinking until what I would call “fairly recently”. I would agree that being in a social situation without alcohol is miserable which was one of the reasons it was for me a major discovery to find how alcohol makes it a tolerable experience. It is also helpful when you are at a restaurant and the noise from the other people (who are probably drinking and there is some guy or woman with an annoying voice) needs to be muted. Or at a cocktail hour for an affair with a bunch of people that you will never see again and you have to talk to them. So for me it probably serves more of a medicinal purpose than for fun. Fwiw, the last time (and only time) I was ever drunk was at Passover when I was a kid and consumed to much of that really bad religious wine. And the experience was enough to keep me from ever getting drunk again.Drinking culture in this country is way out of hand nice that we are all paying for the healthcare of people who kill themselves that way.

          2. JLM

            .You need to drink Garrison Brothers bourbon. Full disclosure.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. Cam MacRae

            Duly noted. Apparently they intend to begin exporting in 2016, starting with Hong Kong and Singapore. Rather fortunate for me given I live in HK!

          4. JLM

            .I will get you a couple of bottles. I will store them for you. In my belly.Sorry. That was a micro-aggression.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. Cam MacRae

            Lucky they serve single malt in my safe space or I’d have to assault you with a hashtag.

          6. JLM

            .I boxed in college. I was a paratrooper and a Ranger — hand to hand combat training. I learned Tae Kwon Do in Korea with the 2nd Inf Div. I own pistols and know how to shoot them.I have no idea how to defend myself against a hashtag.I surrender.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          7. Cam MacRae

            There is an intersectional community of hunchback Albanian dwarves incapable of surrender. And did I mention they’re gay? Your privilege is showing. Kindly check it.

          8. JLM

            .White privilege, indeed. I forgot about that one. My bad.Merry Christmas!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          9. Cam MacRae

            Merry Christmas, JLM!

        2. awaldstein

          Economic perceived value of the gift is almost totally irrelevant.90+% of all wine bought online or through clubs has to do with allocation, choice and ease more than cost.The bluster and the noise is about savings but that is not what drives this.Care, personalization and comfort in getting something interesting is key.btw $45 except for bubbly is way more than anyone needs to pay for a great bottle of hand made wine,

          1. awaldstein

            Really a inane article LE.

          2. LE

            Rich chinese people are buying up near worthless things that I own (dutch tulip style) something that has never happened before like this. There is no inherent high value in these things that they are buying (they contain odd letter combinations) however they seem to have a nice greater fool thing going on over there. I am more than happy (like the wine shop owner quoted in the article) to help them out and to make money off this. When they first came along I thought it was just normal spam which I have gotten for years in great quantity. Luckily I put in some effort and have done extremely well. I know it will end (because there isn’t the base value in the goods).

  6. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Giving done out of free will walks to its own beat -I am neither a “last minute shopper” nor have I “done it already”@fredwilson:disqus – if i did not know better (but I happily do) I would have taken this uni-dimensional question as judgemental.

  7. RichardF

    I used to be very much a last minute shopper. I’m pretty much done this year because I’ve done it all online (as long as Amazon eventually deliver it)Be great if someone could make an app that a child types their letter to santa into and then it goes straight into your amazon account.

  8. Chimpwithcans

    Holiday season means travel season for me. I go back home and see my sister, her kiddies and my parents. So I always buy them something last minute to mark that reunion more than anything else. I am skeptical of all forms of sale discounts. They are not true. Except for hi-end audio equipment….those sales are always just the bargain I was looking for, but never knew it til I read the ad πŸ™‚

  9. pointsnfigures

    Agree with @liad:disqus. Now that my kids are older (24, 22) it’s not about the shopping and gifts. More about the experience. This year one of them is doing a Tumblr blog on The Carter 12 Days of Christmas. We will each put three things in a hat and draw one out in the morning. We have to do whatever it says on that day as a family and anyone that wants to join can. I am trying to figure out three fun things to do that are more about the experience, and not about the money.

  10. jason wright

    is this about Christmas, or an alternative secular American ritual? humbug.

    1. pointsnfigures


      1. jason wright


  11. JimHirshfield

    Whadjya get me? I hate surprises.

  12. jason wright

    well, i haven’t purchased that 21 Inc bitcoin computer for myself just yet, but i’m thinking about it. does that count, or is it only the gifts i buy for others?

  13. Rohan

    We grew up with a different notion of the holiday season back home. I’ve continued with that mindset to this day and integrated parts that I love – e.g. thanksgiving.So, I end up not buying anything at all.Instead, during thanksgiving, I reflect on and thank the people who’ve made this year special.And, during Christmas-new year, I reflect on my year and what I plan to do next year. πŸ™‚

      1. Rohan

        :-Dyou somehow always know how to bring cheer to these comments. I am thankful for that, Jim!

  14. Matt Zagaja

    I’m partway there. Still waiting for some family members to fill their holiday lists. Some are easier to shop for (my mom for example is quite happy to receive pretty much any LEGO set). However one of the challenges of being an adult at this stage in life is that everyone I’m giving for has jobs with salaries that allow them to afford (most of) the things they want. If they really “need” something they can and often do just buy it. I am very thankful that is the case today, because it was not the case in the past.However my biggest Christmas present is to the American citizens out there, who are enjoying a healthy 6.8% return on their investment in me. While I appreciate the vote of confidence when you cut me the checks after I filled out the loan applications every year, I wish I could find a different way to show my thanks to you all.

  15. Elizabeth Dorsey

    I make many of the gifts I give, a la Etsy style. Some have been completed and others, well, are on needle…..that said, I have 12 nieces and nephews so iTunes gift certificates make great presents and are about as commercial as i will go. Cards are always mailed…..hopefully this weekend!

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Thanks Elizabeth, for keeping the spirit of Christmas alive. I have the luck to share my life with a Christmas fairy and have learned to do my part in this beautiful and important ritual of western civilization. Of course we have a few grinches in the family that give us the classic speeches against comercialization, last year we interrupted one of the speeches with an almond and raisin shower. Thinking about, caring and searching, or better yet *making* a present is the important thing. While you are at it you are thinking 100% in the ones you love. Professional Christmas fairies as my wife search for presents all year long, “this would be a nice present for X”… months before Christmas, always amazes me. Amateur Christmas helpers as me always do the shopping on a single brainstorming session one or two days before Christmas using JITXS (Just In Time Xmas Shopping) techniques.

    2. ShanaC

      same!What kind of needlework do you do

  16. Chris O'Donnell

    I did my holiday shopping back in the summer when I booked plane tickets and a rental house on a warm sunny island for the middle of December. We are doing the experience over stuff holiday this year. Not buying presents for each other or the kids. We are going to the beach instead.

  17. Jess Bachman

    In Canada our biggest shopping day is “Boxing day”, which is the day AFTER Christmas.Yeah… I never understood the reason for it either.

  18. JaredMermey

    This year will be tough. My go-to move was to visit the Holiday Market in Union Square. I loved it as it just felt like “Holiday” and the selection was generally both great and different from everything else out there.But we moved and this year we won’t make it. Going to need a new plan.

    1. Elizabeth H (Lisa) D


  19. baba12

    Wonder how many of AVC’s readership & those who are part of the USV team including Mr.Wilson believe in the whole global warming accelerated by humans quest for growth and quality of life related development.If those who believe in global warming being accelerated by human behavior, what percent of the people believe and put into practice of reuse instead of recycle or buying new products.I am referring to the need/desire to buy new stuff as part of the annual ritual of holiday gift buying and giving. Do those who believe in climate change also consciously think about how to conserve or is the goal/motive is to just buy new goods as it feels good and is the right thing to do when it comes to giving gifts etc.I have been consciously been aware of climate change for a long time and as a rule have not bought any new clothes,electronic items etc in the last 10 years, and when it comes to holiday gift giving I have either repaired and or bought things at thrift stores and packaged them in paper that I found ( not buying wrapping paper/ribbons etc).I tend to think that even though I don’t have children nor plan to have any kids, I could be selfish and could careless about the future of the human species at large. But somewhere the conscience seems to not allow that to happen.So while the idea of holiday shopping for gifts is great, what percent of the AVC community consciously thinks of these pressing issues like Climate Change when it pertains to buying things etc.Sadly if you are in the sell side your revenue is measured in how many units you sell, thus it isn’t in the best interest to sell less at whatever price.If Amazon said ” This holiday season buy fewer items, bring older things to designated places around the country, let our experts help rejuvenate the items in ways befitting the item and let the customers exchange/barter these items to make their gifts to give” that would be great, but then their revenues wouldn’t be good & that isn’t good for the shareholders…One can dream…

    1. LE

      I think once you bring “global warming” into the picture then you are judging what you think people should find valuable by your standards.I can argue easily that Mom’s doing the “soccer mom thing” are easily adding to global warming because they are typically driving SUV’s or minivans so they can shuttle groups of kids around or even their single kid but might have to take 5 kids 2 times per year. We could argue that everything we do adds to global warming in some way. Fred drives a Tesla and takes public transit but owns multiple vacation homes and flies to those homes, right? Who gets to decide what is ok to do and what is not? I don’t do the recyling shit if I can avoid it but I probably do less harm to the environment then all of the travel which Fred does or many people on this blog do. (I’ve got strong opinions on much of recyling as bullshit which were recently backed up in some NYT or WSJ article that I read that I will try to find if I can.)I have been consciously been aware of climate change for a long time and as a rule have not bought any new clothes,electronic items etc in the last 10 years, and when it comes to holiday gift giving I have either repaired and or bought things at thrift stores and packaged them in paper that I found ( not buying wrapping paper/ribbons etc). I tend to think that even though I don’t have children nor plan to have any kids, I could be selfish and could careless about the future of the human species at large. But somewhere the conscience seems to not allow that to happen.Your “save the world” attitude is perfectly fine if only you are impacted by it. However if you have that same “save the world” attitude when you are either married or have kids whereby you are saying “I care about these things more than I care about you” then quite frankly you very well may fuck up your kids (or your spouse). Or a relationship with someone that you care about.I had a situation where I dated a divorced mom who had a kid in NYC years ago. One night we left the apartment (it was really hot out) and the little (at the time) 10 year old snot kid tells me we have to shut off the fucking air conditioner because it’s killing the baby seals or something like that. Caused a huge fight. This is after I drive 90 miles to get there, tunnel tols and I am of course paying for dinner. (Plenty of resources wasted there, right?) Mom just wanted to appease the kid so the AC went off. We eventually broke up, Mom is now single (and still single and we broke up a long time ago) and can spend all of her time with her little brainwashed angel in an apartment where the AC is off and we have more baby seals in the world.

      1. JLM

        .The only thing that can kill a baby seal is a killer whale or a guy with a club.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  20. george

    Just got the lights up on the house, now I’m headed for the tree, and then later it’s time to decorate…this is why I wait until the very end to shop, I’m burnt out. πŸ™‚ The mobile shopping option sounds so good!

  21. ShanaC

    Last minute for those who need it, sometimes even late πŸ™‚