Hospitality and Retail Management Associate Chair, Deborah Fowler, Ph.D., shares tips and tricks for managing holiday shopping stress
Deborah Fowler, Ph.D., is a retail management professor in the Department of Hospitality and Retail Management. From her extensive background in retail, Fowler offers solutions for customers to limit holiday shopping stress. According to Fowler, there are numerous reasons that customers experience holiday shopping stress.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), over 80% of Americans don't take extra steps to manage their stress during the holiday season. Not having enough money to do everything, from shopping to decorating, that comes up during the holiday season leads to stress in more than 60% of those surveyed by the APA. Americans also reported that holiday stress increases their likelihood of turning to unhealthy behaviors such as comfort eating, drinking excess alcohol, and partaking in more sedentary activities such as sleeping and watching TV. Holiday stress affects people all over the country, but it can be managed with the right plan.
The first reason that causes holiday stress is that customers wait until the last minute to shop. She suggests that customers utilize online shopping, removing the overwhelming crowds, which are often unavoidable during the holiday season. Along with that, she says financial issues can cause holiday stress. While some customers do not budget for holiday shopping, she finds that customers who do budget for days like Black Friday are still susceptible to focusing on the monetary value of a gift rather than the thought and overspending.
"Because families and individuals plan and budget to purchase gifts and gift cards during the holiday season, they typically spend more, and because the combination of perceived and real scarcity of specific products means many people purchase goods without waiting for discounts," Fowler said.
To manage holiday shopping stress as a customer, Fowler suggests shopping early. Shopping early helps avoid increased shipping costs and the stress of crowds and limited inventory. While shopping, she also encourages customers to prepare a budget per gift or person to limit impulse purchases that can lead to overspending. Fowler reminds customers to focus less on gifts and use the holiday season to enjoy family and friends.
"Make sure the employees are focused on serving the customers rather than their sales pitch," Fowler shares. "Also, ensure they have enough employees to cover the registers and even use tables to help with long lines."
Fowler enjoys the holiday shopping season and wants to help others feel the same. The holiday season can be stressful, whether online shopping or going in-person, but planning can help alleviate holiday shopping stress. Fowler notes that it is easier to focus on decorating and planning meals for family and friends once she has finished her holiday shopping. She said her tips and tricks can help customers prioritize their health and wellness while with family and friends during the holiday season.