Shoppers spend more than planned

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Norwegians usually end up spending more money on Christmas gifts than they had planned, despite signs of caution earlier this month. A new study shows they’ll spend an average of NOK 7,000 (nearly USD 1,300) this year.

This little group was recently spotted on Oslo's main boulevard, Karl Johans Gate, during the holiday shopping season. PHOTO: John Smith, for Views and News

Fresh statistics show that Norwegian retailers finally started seeing a Christmas shopping rush over the weekend, after a slow start to the holiday season earlier this month. A recent study by research firm Synovate, conducted for the country’s biggest bank DNB, also shows that fully 46 percent spend more than they had planned.

News bureau NTB reported that four out of 10 Norwegians questioned also admitted to “panic buying” as Christmas Eve, when Norwegians traditionally exchange gifts, drew closer. Only 5 percent actually set up a budget for holiday purchases.

The bank urged Norwegians to compare prices, agree on maximum price categories for gifts with family and friends and make some gifts themselves, to save money.

Silje Sandmæl, consumer economist at DNB, encouraged Norwegians to think seriously about gift purchases instead of wandering aimlessly through stores in the final days before the holiday. “Don’t let Christmas shopping go out of control,” she told NTB. She said men are especially vulnerable to the dangers of expensive, last-minute shopping.

Norwegian companies, meanwhile, have cut back on giving gifts to employees. While employers earlier gave generous gifts of special foods, wine or other items, now more are donating to worthy causes or dropping gifts altogether, according to a study by research firm InFact conducted for employment agency Xtra personnel.

The study showed that 40 percent of Norwegian employers give their employees gifts, compared to 45 percent in 2009.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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