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Giving up on giving

Another story about how we're in lean economic times.

NEW YORK - Workers shouldn't count on lavish gift baskets or monogrammed cuff links from their employers this holiday season.

As companies face tighter budgets and layoffs in a tough U.S. economy, analysts and industry data suggest a slowdown in employee gift-giving. While financial worries have many consumers curtailing their spending, companies are scaling back their budgets as well.

Sherry-Lehmann, a 74-year-old wine and spirits shop in Manhattan, has seen some corporate customers -- mostly law firms, real estate companies, and Wall Street firms -- trade down to cheaper items.

"We're seeing more interest in less expensive items as the economy struggles," said Chris Adams, Sherry-Lehmann's executive vice president.

Adams expects this to continue as the holiday season approaches and more companies start ordering gifts for their employees. He says sales of pricey Champagne have declined, while sales of sparkling wine and wines priced between $15 and $30 are rising.

David A. Schick, managing director of equity research for Stifel Nicolaus, says he expects many companies will cut back on ordering gifts for their employees, "based on where budgets are right now."

I've never worked for an employer that gives a Christmas or end of year bonus. My sister-in-law a registered nurse, works for a public run hospital that give turkeys to its employees just before Thanksgiving. That practice was discontinued a few years ago.(The less said about the time I tried to carve a turkey the better. Jack the Ripper was neater) My wife has gotten a Christmas bonus, but we never count on it at the end of


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Comments (7)

Maybe if corporate America ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Maybe if corporate America knocked off 'gift giving' and 'performance bonuses' the country would get back on track financially a little bit sooner.

Let's see. I hire you to do a job. If you do a good job, I pay you EXTRA money. How about, you don't do a good job, I fire your worthless ass!

Sadly charity giving is dow... (Below threshold)

Sadly charity giving is down as well. Some food pantries for the poor have few groceries currently. The best thing a person can do right now if they have the means is to write out a check to a reputable organization such as the Salvation Army or even volunteer your time to Meals On Wheels or some other organization. People are hurting right now, so it's time to step up and try to be a good guy.

What? No monogrammed cuffl... (Below threshold)
Tim:

What? No monogrammed cufflinks? Now how will I hold my sweatshirt sleeves tight against the wind? Looks like it's safety pin city for this worker.

GarandFan, you're just a gr... (Below threshold)

GarandFan, you're just a grinch. It would be entirely silly for an employee to DEPEND on a Christmas bonus, but it's not wrong for employers who can afford it (without government bailouts) to share (not spread!) the wealth.

The reason so many employers do things like turkeys, wine, and gift baskets is because IRS rules make giving cash a headache.

My father, who ran a successful business for years always gave all his employees a $100 bill for Christmas. Cash. He didn't deduct this as a business expense because he couldn't without deducting payroll taxes from the gift and in his mind that made it not a gift.

Personally, I think encouraging employee morale and loyalty is as legitimate a business expense as hiring someone to do an efficiency study - both lead to more productivity.

I hope churches come togeth... (Below threshold)
Rebecca:

I hope churches come together to help take up the slack this season for food pantries and other needy folks. No matter how lean we think things are, there are many who are seriously hurting. Yes, some wounds are self-inflicted. Many are not. The children are always innocent. It breaks my heart to think of how many families have been affected by corporate crooks, those CEO illuminati who bailed out with their golden parachutes.

Paul is correct. I volunte... (Below threshold)
sirsurfalot:

Paul is correct. I volunteer at the local food bank (and other places as well) and they have double to triple the clients in the span of one year. If you can spare some $$$, food, or even help/volunteer, your efforts will be greatly appreciated. If you would like info as to where you can volunteer or donate these are a couple of good links.
http://tinyurl.com/6a3u4m
http://tinyurl.com/3xv66d

Actually, people like Garan... (Below threshold)
Mark L:

Actually, people like GarandFan are another reason why companies are giving up on Thanksgiving turkies and Christmas bonuses. Such things are a good way to raise morale -- so long as Grinches don't make giving more hassle than it is worth.

I worked for a company that gave away turkeys for Thanksgiving back in the 1980s. Vegans and vegetarians complained. So the company then gave away $25 gift certificates for food the next year (you could buy a monster turkey for $25 back then).

Then some of the employees got the bright idea to donate the certificates to a food bank. (Not a bad thing on a personal level.) The next year these employees tried to shame everyone into doing the same thing.

And other employees began loudly complaining that the certificates were "a waste of money." Instead of creating good feeling the bonus was creating antagonism and friction.

So the company discontinued the policy the next year.

For some reason those folks who had been contributing their certificates to the food bank chose not to make up the difference out of their own pockets, and those complaining about corporate profits really did not see the increase reflected in their pay envelopes, and those of us that had enjoyed the little break in our food budget lost it.

So everyone lost -- which was a lot fairer, I guess than some people winning. Talk about dogs in a manger.




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