Last-minute gift ideas for stragglers

Consumer Reports News: December 23, 2008 05:54 PM

If you haven’t finished shopping by now – and our most recent Consumer Reports Holiday Poll suggests at least 10 percent of us still have a ways to go – you’re probably desperate for ideas.

You can tell time is running out by latest round of ads, which are aimed squarely at those with no time to dilly-dally. On Tuesday, for example, I spotted my first Walmart TV commercial promoting the chain’s e-gift cards, which can be ordered as late as Christmas morning and delivered to the recipient’s inbox within hours (props to Walmart for telling consumers that the cards never expire and have no fees).

Similarly, commercials depicting husbands, girlfriends, and children painstakingly searching for the perfect present have been replaced with 30-second spots by stores planning to stay open round the clock through Christmas Eve.

With so many retailers embracing marathon hours in hopes of salvaging this dismal holiday shopping season, we procrastinators have one last chance at redemption. To give you a few ideas, I asked our marketing experts for the most popular product searches on ConsumerReports.org. In November, this is what visitors and subscribers researched the most (in descending order):

1. GPS systems
2. Tires (admittedly not a great gift to put under the tree)
3. Vacuum cleaners
4. Humidifiers
5. Luggage
6. Digital cameras
7. Cell phones
8. Space heaters

I also pored through data from our holiday polls to identify the gifts Americans told us they appreciated the most and those that left them cold. 

The top 7 material things:
1.    Electronics – particularly television sets, laptop computers, iPods and MP3 players, and video-game systems
2.    Gift Cards
3.    Cash
4.    Clothing – notably coats and jackets.
5.    Jewelry
6.    Car
7.    Trip or vacation

The top 3 non-material gifts (which, I admit, might be a little hard to find in your local big-box store):
1.    Seeing/spending time with family
2.    Good health
3.    Peace on earth

Gifts that might land you in the doghouse:
1.    Shoes
2.    Sweaters
3.    Family photos
4.    Food
5.    Cologne/perfume
6.    Blanket/quilt/comforter
7.    Musical instruments
8.    Rings and necklaces (Thumbs down for men, up for women)
9.    Sporting goods (Thumbs down for women, up for men)
10.   Tools (Thumbs up for men, down for women)
11.   Handmade/homemade presents (Sorry guys, it’s not what women want)

Happy holidays! Now, get out there and finish shopping!

Marc Perton


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