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This Controversial Trend Makes People Think They're Saving Money on Holiday Shopping — and There Might Be Some Truth to It 'Tis the season of "Girl Math."

By Amanda Breen

Key Takeaways

  • Consumers looking to stretch their holiday shopping budgets are getting creative with their buying timelines.
  • The 2023 shopping season began unprecedentedly early: A report found 50% of holiday shopping began in October or earlier.

"Girl Math," or the way people use creative logic to justify spending, is back with a festive flair.

Consumers are extending the holiday shopping season — buying both earlier and later — in an attempt to "save more" on Christmas Day itself, CNBC reported.

Related: Retailers Are Going to Shatter Discount Records This Holiday Season — But You'll Have to Shop the Right Way to Cash In

The trend is reminiscent of TikTok's viral "Girl Math," which inspired creators to poke fun at their humorous justifications for spending: For example, if you purchase a $25 shirt to get free shipping, the item is basically "free." The term gained massive popularity despite criticism that it stereotypes women as frivolous consumers.

Whether you call it "Girl Math" or something else, seasonal shoppers across the board seem to feel that spending more and taking advantage of deals well before or after the gift-giving occasion means they're spending significantly less — or nothing at all.

The 2023 shopping season began unprecedentedly early: 50% of holiday shopping began in October or earlier, followed by 40% in November, according to a McKinsey & Company report. That's an increase over the year before when 35% of shoppers reported starting to make holiday purchases in November.

"Consumers say they are shopping earlier and that their holiday shopping will last longer this year, in both cases citing price as their primary motivation for doing so," the report stated, noting that shoppers who began their searches earlier did so in an attempt to get ahead of price increases.

Related: Amazon Announces a Second Prime Day as the Fight for Holiday Shoppers Begins

Additionally, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that consumers will spend a record amount from November 1 to December 31 — with year-over-year retail sales to increase between 3% and 4% to between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion.

"The average household remains on relatively solid financial footing despite pressures from still-high inflation, stringent credit conditions, and elevated interest rates," NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. "Recent revisions to government data indicate that consumers haven't drawn down as much of their pandemic savings as believed earlier, and savings are still providing a buffer to support spending. The overall story for this holiday season is that it looks very good."

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a senior features writer at She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

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