Consumerism snakes its way into the holiday season


The focus of many Americans during the holiday season is on buying gifts.

Cindy Lin and Adina Saks

What used to be a day of religious significance has become a trillion-dollar industry synonymous with consumerism. Once representing the season of giving, the modern holiday season has come to be an embodiment of America’s materialism.

In recent times, materialistic values have been stressed during the holiday season. People now, especially children, are more focused on receiving.

Sophomore Brianna Driver of Freehold says, “A lot of people grow up with the idea that even if they don’t get rich, they always have to attain more stuff.”

The rise of household spending over the years is no accident. According to the American Psychological Association, a cultural shift toward consumerism, as well as an increase of intrusive advertisements, seems to drive Americans to overspend.

The obligation many people feel to spend during the winter holidays can be stressful and taxing, especially when young children expect more from their parents during this time.

“It is so stressful every year; what to get them, how much to spend, are they going to like it? Is it going to be enough?” said health and fitness teacher Jennifer Baldaccini.

According to eMarketer, holiday retail sales surpassed one trillion dollars in 2018 for Christmas alone, and in 2019, the amount increased by 4.5%.

“I would say for the most part people are focused on more of the receiving,” Baldaccini said. “It would be nice to see a lot more giving to those who you don’t even know or helping out those who are less fortunate.”

Christmas isn’t the only holiday profiting off of consumers though. For example, Black Friday, which used to be just a day of discounts, has turned into a month-long sale. Americans spent a total of 8.9 billion dollars on Black Friday in 2021, according to data shown from Adobe’s Analytics’ Digital Economy Index.

Although the consumerism rush during the holidays can be stressful for some, the warmth and significance behind the presents are still felt. Despite the common inclination to enjoy receiving more than giving, the importance of giving to others is still at the forefront during this season.

“I do feel like there’s a good portion of people that love to give stuff, especially during this time,” Driver said.