Daily Video

December 23, 2011

Holiday Shopping Trends Reflect Income Inequality

Every year, analysts look at holiday season retail spending to gauge how well the national economy is doing and how much money people have in their pockets. This year, people have been spending money at both discount stores and high-end luxury stores, but not as much at middle-of-the-road retailers.

That doesn’t come as a surprise to many economists, who say people’s spending reflects the income inequality in the U.S.: many people near or below the poverty line, and an increasing number of super-wealthy individuals.

Dollar stores are doing very well in this economy and are catering more to what customers need, not what they want: food, basic beauty supplies and household cleaning products. Large retailers, on the other hand, are often consolidating their middle-of-the-road brands with their luxury brands to make sure they have plenty of options for high-end buyers.

Warm Up Questions

1. What are your favorite stores?

2. Why do economists focus so much on how much money people have spent over the holidays? Why is it important?

3. What do the terms ‘high-end’ and ‘low-end’ mean to you in terms of types of stores?

Discussion Questions

1. According to the video, how do shopping trends this holiday season reflect the current economic make-up of the U.S. population?

2. Where do you and your family shop for holiday gifts? Why?

3. Why do you think dollar stores are stocking more of things people need, and less of what they want?

Additional Resources

Video Transcript

NewsHour Extra Economics Coverage

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