The holidays are here and I love it! I love everything about this season: spending time with friends and family, the lights and decorations, overindulging in holiday treats. I even love the frantic last minute shopping (which I participate in every year). Now, I know that the holidays are about much more than buying gifts and spending money, but this is a blog about investments, so let’s get to it.

Almost every survey or forecast points to a lackluster holiday shopping season. The November Gallup poll shows that U.S. consumers estimate they will spend $704 on Christmas gifts this year. This is down from the estimate of $786 made in October, and the $770 made last year. Gallup’s numbers suggest that overall Holiday spending may increase 1.7%to 2.4% over 2012 spending*. Nielson and ShopperTrak have similar numbers showing increases of 2%** and 2.4%***, respectively. Whichever forecast you look at, this would be the smallest increase since 2009.

Major retailers are generally reflecting these forecasts in their earnings reports. Both Walmart and Best Buy beat on their most recent quarters, but guided downward for the holiday season. Kohl’s missed their third quarter estimates by a nickel reporting earnings of 81 cents per share. And, for the holiday quarter, Apple is predicting only a single digit year over year sales gain (the first time since 2008). Some good news in retail, Macy’s soundly beat their estimate of 39 cents by reporting a solid 47 cents per share. And the retail sales number for October came in better than expected at a gain of 0.4%.

Some interesting things to watch this year are online purchases and Black Friday sales. According to the Nielsen poll, consumers across all income levels plan to spend more online. About 20% of consumer with incomes over $100,000 and 15% of those with incomes under $50,000 plan to increase their internet purchases.** Cyber Monday continues to be more and more relevant to all retailers.

“Black Friday” is turning into “Black Thanksgiving Week” as many stores are having sales all week long. Also, instead of waiting until the wee hours of Friday morning, some stores are starting their door buster sales on Thanksgiving Day. Walmart is opening at 6 pm on Thursday with headliners such as a 16 GB iPad mini for $299 and you get a $100 Walmart gift card. Target is not far behind, opening at 8:00 p.m. on Turkey Day, offering a 50” LED HDTV for $229. It will be interesting to see if these types of sales can drive earnings for the brick and mortar stores.

So, what does all this mean? As an advocate of long term investing, I do not recommend trading into or out of any individual stock based on one month of consumer spending. I believe that the best way to make money in the market is to set up an investment portfolio that is appropriate for your goals, time frame and risk tolerance. It does appear that this holiday season is confirming the condition of the overall economy. We are still seeing growth, but at a pretty slow rate. Consumers are spending cautiously as they deal with uncertain economic conditions. And while the recovery in the stock market has been fairly swift, the economy is still struggling along.

This time of year always seems to fly by for me. However you celebrate the season, I hope you have a great time. Happy Holidays!

*http://www.gallup.com/poll/165872/americans-trimming-holiday-spending-plans.aspx/

**http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2013/tis-the-season-to-be-fiscally-cautious-2013-nielsen-holiday.html

***http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323342404579079650513555292

Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Verity Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.

Gavin Chinn, CFS* Financial Advisor

Check the background of this investment professional on FINRA’s BrokerCheck.

An Investment Advisor registered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P., Gavin has 22 years of experience as an advisor in the Puget Sound area.

“I believe every client is unique and deserving of a personalized financial plan that will help them reach their individual financial goals. Before I make any recommendations, I like to get to know my clients. By asking the right questions, and developing an honest, trusting relationship I can really get a sense of what’s going to work best for them.”

Gavin graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Business Administration and started his financial career with US Bank in the Investment Department. Prior to joining Verity in 2006, he spent eight years with Piper Jaffray.

So what is Gavin’s vision for his dream retirement?

“My dream retirement would be absolutely worry free: financially, emotionally, and in every aspect of life. My finances would be in order so expenses for travel, luxuries, and gifts for the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids would be taken care of. My kids would be financially sound, so I would be confident in their prosperity. This would give me the freedom to travel and play and do whatever it is I want to do.”

When Gavin’s not working, he enjoys spending time with friends and family, watching Husky football, and taking weekend trips around the Northwest.

Gavin is registered to transact securities business in the states of WA, OR, CA, AZ, FL, HI, ID, IL, MN, NM, NY and VA.

*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Verity Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.

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