Holiday shoppers get crafty as economy plunges

Retailers across the board are reporting weaker sales this holiday season as shoppers have less money to spend on gifts and on themselves in this ugly economy. There is one exception, though. Craft sales are much stronger this year, as folks turn to do-it-yourself projects and handmade goods to save money on gifts.

In years past, maybe you spent $10 or $20 on each of your gifts, but when you can't afford to spend like that anymore, it's time to get creative. You can make your own gifts for the cost of some inexpensive craft supplies, or you can buy directly from crafters if you're not so talented with knitting needles and glue sticks yourself. Etsy, the popular website for buying and selling handmade goods, has seen a real boom in both listings and transactions this holiday season. Sometimes it's more expensive to buy handmade goods, but etsy is a great place to find less expensive but still high quality merchandise. I did a lot of shopping there myself this year!
In addition to making their own gifts, shoppers are shunning pre-made holiday decorations this year in favor of supplies to make their own. If you've got the time and the vision, you can save a lot of money by making your own wreaths and other holiday home decorations.

While overall holiday retail sales were down 7.4% for the month of November compared to November 2007, most craft retailers are reporting better numbers this year -- as much as 33% higher in some stores. Small ticket craft supplies are selling the fastest, like jewelry-making findings and scrapbooking supplies. Judging by the number of cookie cutters sold, it also looks like baked goods will be big this holiday season.

Handmade gifts can often be the best gifts. You can add personal touches that make each gift really unique and special, and you can save money, too. Why haven't we been doing this for years already?

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