Students participate in holiday shopping season

Freshman+Kristine+Cho+shops+online

Freshman Kristine Cho shops online

Nicole Schroeder

As of this weekend, the holiday shopping season is well underway, having begun two weeks ago on the day after Thanksgiving, known commonly as “Black Friday.”  Nearly 86.9 million people looked for deals both online and in-stores this year on Black Friday, according to a survey published by The National Retail Federation on Nov. 30, 2014.
Junior Sam Hiebert said he did not go Black Friday shopping this year. Even so, he said he still tends to shop during the holiday season after he has had time to consider what he thinks people would like.
“Usually when I buy gifts for people, I kind of wait until later, closer to the time they need them, but I kind of think about them beforehand,” Hiebert said. “Usually I mostly buy gifts for people I know pretty well, so I think about what they specifically like and think about something that would appeal to them.”
Though Black Friday is often the busiest day of the holiday shopping period, the whole season extends for roughly a month afterward. Many people continue spending at both online and walk-in retailers in light of upcoming festivities.
However, Hiebert said he prefers to shop in local stores. He said these stores allow him to give back to the community while he shops and require less specificity in his ideas than online.
“I think it tends to be better to shop at local places. Shopping online can be more difficult because you have to know exactly what you’re looking for,” Hiebert said. “Usually [I shop in] smaller, independently-owned stores that would typically own the kind of things I know people would like — places like Slackers or something, or Peace Nook —  just those specialty places downtown.”
Though Hiebert prefers to shop locally, Sophomore Ellen Terry said she doesn’t really prefer one type of store over another. She said she decides which stores to shop in based on the gifts she needs to buy.
“Online [shopping] is better for something specific,” Terry said, “but if I’m not looking for something specific, then…I’ll just go to the mall and look for something that the person would like at a store like Target that has something that everyone would like.”

“Shopping online can be more difficult because you have to know exactly what you’re looking for.” —junior Sam Hiebert”

In fact, many people tend to think about the gifts they are looking for before they go to the store. Kara Jackson, an employee at Best Buy, said many people come in looking for a specific item that they would like to purchase.
“They usually come in with a plan, with an ad in their hand—they like to tell us the price of [the item],” Jackson said. “Sometimes they don’t understand that some people have the exact same idea as them and then we’re out of inventory, but other than that they pretty much come in with a straight thought of what they’re gonna get.”
Unlike these shoppers, though, Hiebert said he prefers just having a general idea of what he will buy and finds gifts based on things he thinks the person would enjoy.
“It kind of depends, because if I know someone needs something, like an appliance even, I’ll get them that,” Hiebert said, “but otherwise I kind of just buy whatever I think they would find interesting—kind of frivolous things, but things I think they’d think were cool.”
Different from Hiebert, Terry said she picks out items to buy as gifts before going to the store, completing most of her shopping “[at] the mall or online if it’s for a specific thing.”
“Sometimes in advance…I know what exactly I’m trying to get,” Terry said, “but if I don’t know a specific thing then it’s always a last-minute [rush] trying to figure something out.”
For those people who don’t know exactly what they want to buy, Jackson said stores often change the store layout around the holiday season to show off different products and entice buyers toward certain specific purchases.

“Sometimes in advance…I know what exactly I’m trying to get, but if I don’t know a specific thing then it’s always a last-minute [rush] trying to figure something out.” —sophomore Ellen Terry”

“We have more displays, more floor models of things so people can actually come in and visualize with their eyes and hands. People like to touch with their hands more than their eyes, so we have more of those available for them to look at,” Jackson said. “We actually bring all the merchandise that is locked up in cases out onto the floor and put them on display. We wrap them up in Spider Wrap and security cases and things like that for people to see. That way they’re just on the floor so…its a direct thing.”
Hiebert said the only thing shoppers should keep in mind this holiday season is not to overspend when buying gifts.
“Just don’t spend too crazily on someone that you don’t really know that well—someone that’s not really a friend or family member,” Hiebert said. “If you find something that you think someone would really like, it can usually be worth it to splurge a little on them if they’re a close friend or family member.”
Additionally, Hiebert said people should consider each gift before buying it, as it allows them to decide if the recipient would truly like it.
“Don’t get tricked by sales. If something’s on sale, it tends to be more tempting to buy it. Also, don’t buy people things that you want, because you’re just kind of projecting your own interests which isn’t good,” Hiebert said. “You have to think about what that person would want so you might have to shop for things that you normally wouldn’t shop for.”
By Nicole Schroeder
Feature photo by Devesh Kumar