CHRISTMAS CLUBS. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it seems that Christmas shopping is more important than it’s ever been. Contrary to appearances, it was more important back in the day. Tim Harford had an article in the Financial Times (December 17-18) reporting on some findings by Joel Waldfogel, the author of SCROOGENOMICS. In the 1930’s the December bulge in percentage of retail spending was much larger than it is today. About 10% of that spending was financed by “Christmas clubs”. The Christmas clubs offered by banks involved accounts with prescribed deposits at regular intervals through the year with December withdrawals. The idea was to help people save. People nowadays pay after Christmas (credit cards) rather than saving beforehand. Kids, as children, we had Christmas club accounts for a year or two. Mary Jane didn’t have one, but marveled that one of her friends had one that didn’t pay interest (instead of an ordinary savings account which did pay interest).

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