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No need to wrap: Some ‘gifts’ are headed straight home

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Monday, December 2, 2013 - 8:38 am

NEW YORK – Doing your part on CyberMonday? It's all in the name of gift-giving — or at least the guise of it.

It seems a lot of consumers are using sales and retail events to treat themselves to a new little something.

As a group, self-shoppers are growing, says Marshal Cohen, chief analyst of The NPD Group, Inc., a consumer insight company. He puts the number at 20 percent, up from 5 percent in the early 2000s.

“I started tracking people shopping for themselves about 10 years ago. I was at a Black Friday in a Macy's in a suburban location in Long Island,” he recalls. “This woman has one arm filled with a few things, maybe a dress and a few sweaters, and another with 12 items.”

Guess which hand had the future presents for her two sisters and a friend?

It's a similar scene in Loft stores already this year, says Lori Leslie-Robbins, director of client experience for the retailer. “For us, the tell-tale sign that someone is shopping for themselves is that our fitting rooms stay busy for the holidays. She's trying clothes on, and you don't need to do that for a gift.”

Because of the deep discounts, shoppers see this as an opportunity to replenish their own wardrobes and homes with less guilt than buying the new pair of jeans, for example, at full price, Cohen says. Those same shoppers might not feel that way about a gift for someone else.

He says especially the early-bird holiday shoppers are looking for the sales for themselves, while the transactions made closer to Christmas are more likely to be bona fide gifts.