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Buyers' limits, habits different

November 23, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

In a survey asking shoppers how this year's holiday spending will compare to last year's, the "mores" won out - but not by much.

Of 19 Tri-State shoppers surveyed Wednesday and Saturday, eight said they'll spend more. Six said their budget will stay the same and five plan to spend less.

In some cases, shoppers said they can't help buying more - their families are growing.

That was the case for Sue King, 62, of Boonsboro, who will have two babies joining her extended family.

Besides, she said, she's somewhat of a pushover.

"I have a range, but if the children see something they want, Grandma gets it for them," she said.

Bobbie Brindle, 21, of Greencastle, Pa., said she plans to buy a lot for her daughter, Morgan, who just turned 1.

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During a shopping outing at Valley Mall Wednesday, Brindle said she had spent $150 so far just for Morgan.

Katrina Gatrell, 28, of Hagerstown, said she and her husband both are working and she expects them to spend more this season. She guessed the total will be about $2,500 for nine or 10 people, including their three children.

Pam Hinkle, 51, of Falling Waters, W.Va., predicted that she'll spend $600 this season, which is more than last year. She's normally a late shopper, but got an early start this year, thanks to mail-order catalogues.

Linda Spunich, of Charles Town, W.Va., didn't mean to spend more money this year. She did her shopping in Italy, using euros, the monetary system in use in much of Europe.

She later learned that the U.S. dollar doesn't do well against the euro.

As an example, she said, she thought she was paying about $60 for a purse in Italy, but converted from euros to dollars, it turned out to be more like $85.

"I spent more than I planned to," she said.

"Prices on everything are going up, so I'll be spending more this year," said Kris Miller, 21, of Martinsburg, W.Va. He also said he has more people on his gift list to buy for this year.

Sarah Moriarty, 17, of Martinsburg, is making more money this year, so she'll spend more. She said she has fewer people to buy for this year, so they'll get nicer gifts.

Sherry Swindle lives in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., with her husband and two sons. She plans to spend more on Christmas this year.

"There are new things and more variety," she said.

Some shoppers try to hold the line.

"My Christmas club is the same every year," Irene Gaffney, 48, of Waynesboro, Pa., said. "That's what they get."

"My children are all grown," Jean Taylor, 74, of Martinsburg, said. "It's hard to buy for them. They know what they want, but I don't, so I get them gift certificates. I find that it's easiest."

Duane Shears, 61, of Charles Town, said he's probably going to spend about the same this year, too.

"My wife and I have kind of a base," he said. "We always have a nice Christmas at our house with the children and grandchildren."

Last year, Stacy Myers of Williamsport figures she spent about $2,000 on presents for 12 people. Myers, 27, thinks she'll stick to that amount again.

Roxanne Roman, 39, of Hagerstown, said she picks an amount per person and sticks with it. She said her shopping will pick up after Thanksgiving, when her family exchanges names to buy presents.

Adam Ocasek, 25, of Hagerstown, has no doubt he'll hold his spending to last year's amount.

Asked how he determines his budget, he said with a smile, "It depends on how close relatives they are - and how much I like them."

When JCPenney had a sale last week, Ralph Foltz, 69, of Funkstown, bought something for a friend. That was the end of his shopping. He said he spent less this year than last year.

Roy Sumlin, 37, of Hagerstown, and his girlfriend are expecting a baby, but he figures his holiday spending will decrease.

He was at the Centre at Hagerstown Saturday, "just out looking around. We're getting ready for Black Friday."

John and Brandy Kluck, both 27, of Waynesboro, set a budget for their large extended family and sons, Axel, 2, and Camden, 9 months.

The family draws names for giving gifts. Several family members won't participate this year, John Kluck said.

Sherry Ruck, 47, of Waynesboro, said she hadn't thought much about it, but probably will spend less. "I bought a lot of big items last year," she said.

One woman found a way to cut spending on presents drastically.

"We're not exchanging gifts this year," Alicia Clark, 19, of Martinsburg, said. "My family decided to just have a nice family meal for Christmas. Normally, we have shrimp."

- Staff writer Richard F. Belisle and staff correspondent Bonnie Brechbill contributed to this story

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