November 27th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #677 'The shopping paradox'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: I don’t know if the president does any of his own Christmas shopping. I mean, he’s a big internet user, and you can shop for pretty much anything there, so who knows?

Dear Mr. President,

Our extended family on my side has opted, at long last, for a name-drawing system for Christmas gifts. I don’t think any of us are too keen on it, but most of the grandkids are grown now and in this uncertain economy (and considering the cost of shipping packages to a far flung crowd) plenty of relatives are mindful of their money. So we’re going to give it a whirl and see if everyone can live with it.

Heaven knows most of us have everything we truly need, so the cutback in gifts is not the issue. I think the unease comes more from the concern that families already have enough things tugging at their time and commitment to each other, and letting go of any connecting thread is disquieting.

That said I assume you must be watching the retail sales numbers pretty closely this weekend. After all, for an awful lot of stores out there, the next four weeks are sink-or-swim time. I heard a report that the average consumer is planning on spending a few dollars more this year on Christmas than last year, but the margin was so small I’m not entirely convinced. I suspect we’ll see pretty much a status quo season.