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Christmas shopping and what the wealthy really want

By Dian Vujovich

I was in Bloomingdale’s at The Gardens Mall earlier this month and surprised to see their Christmas shop all set up. More surprising, however, was that the shop looked almost exactly like last year’s. The shop is located in the same spot but there appeared to be no new gotta-have exciting anything in it. Bummer. And how unvery Christmas-like.

I’m no fan of Christmas stuff going on sale and display in October. That’s probably because I still remember when Christmas shopping pretty much began after Thanksgiving and certainly not before Columbus Day or Halloween.

But no matter when the holiday shopping season begins, the deal with buying Christmas or holiday gifts, and obviously something Bloomie’s buyers have forgotten, is that what kids of all ages —- from 2 to 102— really want is for their eyes to open wide as saucers and their mouths to let out a “Wow!” when they see something they’ve always dreamed of. Or, never even imagined they wanted but do once it’s seen.

In the shopping catalogue department, Neiman Marcus knows only too well how to sell over-the-top holiday gifts to the luxury crowd. At their store on Worth Avenue, their Christmas shop department is open, looks to be a tad larger than last year’s and is tastefully appointed with gifts appropriate for the lux Palm Beach set.

Cross the street to Saks and you’ll find no Christmas there. But, head to their store at the Garden’s Mall and their holiday department is larger than last year’s and filled with great oh-I-want-that stuff. A few thousand bucks will buy you a wonderful holiday merry go round and a few more a North Pole World’s Fair Farris wheel.

Earlier this week, the American Affluence Research Center released results from their semi-annual survey regarding the habits of the wealthiest 10 percent of households. Included in the report were the types of gifts those surveyed said that they’d like to receive for Christmas or Hanukah. Number 1 on that wish list was gifts of clothing. Thirty-nine percent thought those gifts would be keen. How much to spend, you ask? Well, the spendier the better: 40 percent thought up $999 would do but 43 percent figured it ought to be $4000 or more.

Next in line came wishes of gift cards/gift certificates. Twenty-six percent of respondents wanted them. Curiously, they didn’t expect the giver to put as much moola on those cards as did from someone buying them clothing attire: Most (34 percent) expected a gift card with a value of up to $999; 28 percent thought over $4000 would do; and 26 percent would be happy with cards of between $1000 and $1,999.

Money, checks, books, CDs and DVDs ranked next in wants at 19 percent. To make folks happy here you can get by spending under 1000 bucks.

As for what not to buy the seasoned wealthy this year? Forget about buying any kind of appliance. One percent said they wanted a small appliance and two percent a large one. Perfume and photography equipment were pretty much out too—only three percent of respondents wanted them. E-book readers weren’t so popular (4 percent) but decide for go for an iPad or other type of tablet computer and the percentage of those wanting it jumps to 17.

If there is a bottom line good thing to be gleaned from this survey, it’s that those surveyed expect to spend at least the same, if not more, on gifts this holiday season than they did last year. Let’s hear a round of shopping applause on that one.

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