Retailers are elated about one of the best days in e-commerce history. "Cyber Monday" posted record-breaking sales averaging 33 percent with Amazon's sales jumping 47 percent.
While purchasing online is arguably better for the environment (it takes a lot less CO2 to have a package shipped with thousands of others than it does to drive to the mall) Joel Waldfogel, author of the new book Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays, feels that it's high time to end the annual ritual of frenzied shopping.
A Wharton School professor and Slate columnist, Waldfogel has examined the history of the high holy days of American consumerism and argues from an economic perspective that both individuals and the environment are suffering as a result.
According to his numbers there is $85 billion worth of "value destruction" as a result of people purchasing products when those products aren't necessarily wanted or needed by the recipient. His statistics are derived from a lengthy study looking into the perceived value of gifts and the well-known but oft unspoken truth that at least 20 percent of the time, we would probably rather the cash than a not-so-useful gift.
His solution ... give cash. Or at least vow to not give a gift unless you are pretty close to sure that it will make your loved one jump up and down for joy.
I know it sounds unromantic, but at the end of the day what would you rather?