There's a time cost and a risk of overspending for customers. For retailers, returns can be a massive headache.
In the UK the equivalent of four million Christmas dinners are wasted every year.
Illustration of a market full of seasonal produce from Thomas Kibble Hervey’s Book of Christmas (1837).
For Victorian shop workers, Christmas could be a miserable time of long hours and low pay.
A ‘Mickey Mouse’ Christmas tree at a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The commercial aspects of Christmas have assisted its embrace in non-Christian countries.
Many people become more forgiving of poor service if there are Christmas symbols around.
What have I done?
Most people consider themselves canny shoppers – but we're all human.
Can I get away with this amount of presents?
Getting into the Christmas spirit means buying stuff. But how much is too much?
The run up to Black Friday is often shrouded in secrecy, which makes buying things on the day a lot more frenetic.
Don’t let go.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
Psychological ownership is that feeling that someone stole 'your' parking spot or nabbed the last sweater you had your eye on. We have a tendency to get territorial when we fell it's been violated.
Shoppers, start your engines …
Some can't wait to hit the ground running while others would rather endure a root canal. Certain characteristics help explain who is in which group.
A customer shops for a turkey.
Millions of Americans will be shopping for turkeys in the coming days. An economist suggests a few things to keep in mind as you hunt for the perfect bird for your feast.
A long line might actually be the quickest line.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Don't despair if, once you've gathered your shopping items, you're met by a single line that looks a mile long. Queuing theory suggests this is likely the fastest way to get you rung up and moving on.
UK mired by food 'deserts' and a crisis of loneliness – they should be tackled together.
Reacting to what you buy, then predicting what you want to buy.
Artificial intelligence can detect patterns in your shopping behaviour that can help retailers deliver better deals to you, and then suggest things you never even knew you wanted.
Buying reusable bags every time you shop is worse than just using plastic.
Some young people are getting into credit card debt to achieve the ideal lives they see portrayed on social media.
When young adults create and share online content focused on consumer products, it can trigger a social comparison process that results in feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem.
What is the future of retail?
Specific predictions go obsolete fast, but some common themes are emerging – convenience, fragmentation, intelligence, personalisation and experience.
Is forgetting your bags really such an inconvenience?
AAP Image/Peter Rae
Meet the 'Yeah-buts' - those who know plastic is bad for the environment, but can't get behind the bag ban because it affects their own convenience. This mindset can stall the best-laid green plans.
As seen on a high street near you.
The challenges facing town centres and high streets are intensifying.
Famous dome in Galeries Lafayette, Paris.
Glance at House of Fraser, John Lewis et al and you might think it's time to give up the ghost.
Positive messaging wins the day.
AAP Image/Dallas Kilponen
Plastic bags will soon be gone from major supermarkets and many other shops too. Campaigns to reduce plastic even more should focus on positive advice, rather than shaming shoppers for their plastic use.