Holiday shopping already is in high gear

A new survey of U.S. consumers reports that roughly 4.6 million shoppers or about 2 percent of the consumer population have already completed their Christmas shopping.

That should be a wake-up call to Costa Rican tourism operators who are not yet approaching the coming high season aggressively.

The survey report comes from, an online resource for credit card consumers, according to A.M. Costa Rica’s wire services.

Since U.S. Labor Day, Sept. 7, the survey shows that 32 million Americans have already started checking items off their Christmas shopping lists, the wire services said.

For some U.S. retailers, the last two months of the holiday season can account for as much as 20 to 40 percent of their overall profits for the year. For Costa Rican tourism operations, the high season, from December to March, not only brings more guests but also those with more money.

To some extent, tourism operators here are in competition with Christmas retailers elsewhere. And recently retailers have devised some techniques to get the money that could be spent on vacations.

The Thanksgiving Day holiday, celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November, used to mark the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. But the last recession prompted many retailers to find new ways to attract shoppers.  The first full shopping day after Thanksgiving is often called Black Friday because it marks the day retailers finally shift into profit mode or go into the black.  More recently, retailers have found new ways to beat the competition and improve their profit margins with Gray Thursday.  The term became popular last year when large retail chains started opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day.

For those wanting to avoid the long lines and the crush of people associated with Gray Thursday and Black Friday specials, the first day after the Thanksgiving weekend has its own moniker: Cyber Monday.  Retailers say the first full working day after the Thanksgiving holiday is now one of the busiest online shopping days.

Black Friday also is popular among Costa Rican retailers.

According to the survey, one in four of all adult shoppers expect to finish their holiday shopping by the end of November.  Of those, parents and grandparents are twice as likely as those without children to complete their holiday shopping by Dec. 1.

Those who earn less are more likely to complete their holiday shopping before Dec. 1.  Nearly one third of respondents earning $30,000 or less will finish their holiday shopping by then.  The figure drops to one in five for those earning $75,000 or more.

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