A Business Times (BT) poll conducted for the festive season on "Stretching The Rupee" shows that shoppers give equal prominence to clothes/shoes and food. When asked to prioritise between three items (clothes/shoes, food and gifts), equal numbers of respondents voted for both clothes/shoes (34.5%) and food (34.5%) were the same, while gifts (31.03%) were considered least important of the three; prompting the conclusion: there is really nothing which we can do without during Christmas. Because even though clothes/shoes and food were identified as most preferred, gifts could also not be ignored as they were shown to be significantly important to shoppers.
However, while respondents as a whole could not decide what they needed most this Christmas, one thing they all overwhelmingly agreed on was that they had to be extra diligent, particularly this year, not to overspend. Fully 67.64% of those polled (among 225 respondents) favoured spending only the bare minimum necessary for the season.
Asking respondents to prioritise clothes/shoes, food and gifts into “1”, “2” and “3” in response to “During the season what do you spend on the most?” as well as answering “Yes”, “No” and “Undecided” to “Do you over-spend (more than what you earn)? If so do you have plans to cut spending?”; the Business Times Poll utilised a convenient sampling methodology, via emails sent to a database of regular contributors to tap public opinion from private and public sector business leaders, decision makers and employees in sectors as diverse as finance and banking, IT, services, telecommunications, garment and textiles, electronics and other.
Additionally, remarks by respondents provided greater insight into why people were so vehemently against spending too much, particularly this year. One opinion was that any sort of overspending in "the existing economy" was not advisable because "there was no way to recover". Yet others suggested that, while they did not overspend in the first place, they were attempting to make still more reductions to expenditure; with one respondent stating that they had already earmarked these savings for charities to help those less fortunate.
Another commented that they had learned to control overspending due to a strict regimen of cash only transactions, while others cited the unlikelihood of bonuses this season as well as turbulent times and an uncertain future for Sri Lanka as reasons to curb spending and actually for once try to save during what would ordinarily be a no-holds-barred shopping marathon.
Meanwhile, there was one with a sobering reminder that, even beyond the season, overspending was becoming a greater area of concern for all as household expenses now frequently exceeded monthly earnings for many, especially because of the sheer number of essential items required by today's families; for example "food, shelter (rent or maintenance cost), power (mainly electricity), cooking expenditure (mainly gas, firewood and otherwise), school expenditure (including school transportation), vehicle maintenance or its fuel costs, etc., and not to forget the social expenditure."