Last-Minute Shopping: Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

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Last-Minute Shopping: Gentlemen, Start Your Engines
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It may not be the Indianapolis 500, but the final days before Christmas can be a mad dash to the finish line for the average American male. Known for their procrastination, men are the worst offenders when it comes to last-minute holiday shopping.

A recent survey by the National Retail Federation found that, as of Tuesday, over 41 million people have not yet started their holiday shopping, with the biggest procrastinators being men. Male procrastinators are in good company with other holiday shoppers because there are five fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.
The shorter window between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year means that the holidays have snuck up on many of us, said National Retail Federation CEO Tracy Mullin. He noted that, Retailers will try to manage the rush of last-minute shoppers with expanded hours, extra employees to stock shelves, and a lot of sales and promotions.

With a particularly long shopping list every year is local resident Greg Derogatis, who spent Monday evening in the Silver Parrot on King Street shopping for Christmas, his wifes birthday, his wedding anniversary and his mothers birthday.

I come here every year to get my shopping done, said a very calm Derogatis, considering he had just over 48 hours before Christmas morning arrives. They have beautiful jewelry here and I can get gifts for several people at once.

The Silver Parrot, like others along King Street, was busy with last-minute shoppers despite the cold weather. While men shoppers will be visiting a variety of retailers over the next few days, some categories will be busier than others. Jewelry stores and department stores will be the top spots for shopping. Additionally, a large majority of last-minute guy shoppers are planning to skip the crowds and visit the web to shop online for the ultimate in lazy gift giving.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that retail sales were down 1.8 percent in November. While thats bad news for retailers, its great news for men since prices have been dropping as a result. Here are some ideas that are sure to bail out even the biggest of shopping procrastinators, male and female alike.

If you know your recipients favorite store or boutique in town, head there first. Its likely the store employees know what your intended recipient likes and can make some suggestions. If that isnt the case, opt for a gift certificate.

Try the grocery store. There are many gourmet items at the grocery store that people wont buy for themselves and will definitely make great gifts. Premium brand coffees and wines are a good place to start. Then move on to chocolate, plus holiday samplers of meats and cheeses. Many of these gourmet gifts are prepackaged so only a thoughtful card is needed.

Give yourself as a gift. Now youre moving in the direction that all women will love. If you are a decent cook then give your loved one a coupon for your services as the master chef for that romantic candlelight dinner. If youre a handyman, offer your services for a day of tackling a honey-do list. And if you happen to be in a hardware store, look for gourmet kitchen appliances like espresso machines, or tools or books for the gardener on your list.

If you have a particular talent, use it. Write a poem or song, frame a favorite or old family photograph or craft something with your own hands. In general, you are safe with any gift the recipient can wear, eat or educate themselves with.

If its 9 p.m. on December 24, or even 9 a.m. on Christmas morning, head to the local CVS (open 24 hours, including Christmas Day) for an inexpensive gift or stocking stuffer. Cosmetics, DVDs, small electronics, candy and gift cards work in a pinch but be prepared to do something more substantial after the big day. A thoughtful card with a promise of a shopping trip to your recipients favorite store may help but dont expect an obvious last-minute drug store item to be a substitute for a real gift.
Yes, its the thought that counts, and even if you arent able to finish your holiday shopping on time, a few heartfelt words and a sincere effort to simply let someone know just how much they mean to you will go a long way towards making the holidays bright for everyone on your list.

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