There are very few people who would argue that the United States is in the best financial shape possible.  Over the last few years, our economy has been scary to say the least.  This less-than-desirable economy has had an effect on the holiday shopping season in years past, but it appears that this year is showing signs of a return.  The Seattle Times is now reporting that the holiday shopping season in 2010 had higher sales than any other year since the beginning of the recession.  While there are a number of reasons that can be seen as contributions to this upward trend, the reality is that the upward trends may very well foreshadow an economic recovery.

One important aspect that needs to be considered is the fact that the matter in which we have been conducting our holiday shopping has been heading more and more towards online sales instead of in-store sales.  This is one of the components that attributes towards the downfall of “Black Friday.”  Why is online shopping so significant?  Simply put, online shopping is significantly easier than the traditional shopping methods (think mall parking).  And when outlets make it easier for people to spend money, they’re more likely to do so.

Perhaps more importantly, I personally believe that a number of retailers have become more and more desperate in the past year, and realized that their success in 2010 was dependant on their increased competition and reasonable pricing.  After all, when the economy is slow, businesses are more heavily reliant to their customers and need to work harder to please them.  Personally, I saw this in the number of offers that were sent to me from reputable stores this holiday season.

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On top of the extravagant offers, I think that 2010 brought with it a large number of  innovations in various technology-related products.  The mobile industry, for example, seems to be increasing at exponential rates.  With this revolution, I think that more and more people saw reasonable-priced gifts that people could put to use.  This, I believe, is why retailers did so well this year.

One company that I’m putting under the microscope for this article is Apple.  After doing extremely well with the MacBook Air and iPad leading up to the holiday season, more recent reports seem to indicate that the company has done well with the Apple TV, and seems to have high hopes for the iPhone in the coming months.

To me, this confirms my thoughts that innovation is leading the way for consumers to purchase more items.  More importantly, I’m eager to see how things go in the coming year as more and more companies elect to take gambles.


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