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Self-gifting has become crucial for holiday sales

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Shoppers browse through a sale rack of coats during Black Friday at Macy’s in Chicago. Buying gifts for oneself has become a key indicator in overall holiday sales tallies for retailers. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles, File)

Shoppers browse through a sale rack of coats during Black Friday at Macy’s in Chicago. Buying gifts for oneself has become a key indicator in overall holiday sales tallies for retailers. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles, File)

Come Christmas, many shoppers decide to treat themselves to a little (or sometimes not-so-little) something extra.

Some do it to take advantage of irresistible promotions. Others buy an item as a gift and then decide they want another for themselves.

This fine art of giving to oneself at the holidays, dubbed self-gifting by retail pollsters who track such behavior, has become a key indicator for how merchants will fare once the post-Christmas tallies come in.

“The willingness of the shopper to push her budget beyond what she had originally planned is a key influencer for holiday growth,” NPD Group analyst Marshal Cohen said in a blog post. “In fact, the self-gifting indicator has made the difference between growth and decline.”

Cohen reasons that each year the number of gifts Americans expect to give remains roughly the same, making their tendency to buy presents for themselves a more accurate gauge of their economic circumstances.

And during the recession, when spending declined, “one of the leading factors that saved retailers was an increase in self-gifting” by consumers taking advantage of big holiday bargains, Cohen said.

A third of consumers ages 25 to 64 will self-gift before Christmas, according to a survey from Chase Blueprint and AOL.

This year, about 57 percent of consumers told the National Retail Federation that they will take advantage of deals during the holidays to buy items that aren’t gifts for others. Last year, 59 percent of respondents said the same.

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