Jan 10, 2022

Podcasts in the Classroom - Holiday Shopping: Boom or Bust?

This series is designed to bring together a variety of shorter, readily available podcasts to introduce a topic from recent headlines and inspire discussion

Towards the end of last year, we created a Podcasts in the Classroom blog post on the holiday shopping spree. In this post, we look back at how retailers and consumers fared during the holiday shopping season. 

Here are some 2-4 minute Marketplace podcasts discussing these headlines.

  • 12/27 Marketplace Holiday sales boosted by fear of empty shelves
  • 12/29 Marketplace Retailers grapple with returns as online sales surge
  • 1/4 Marketplace So how good were the holidays for retailers?

Marketplace Minute Podcasts

  • 12/17 Midday CFPB to look more closely at Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) plans.
  • 12/22 Midday Consumer Confidence in December at highest since July.
  • 12/23 Midday Inflation, personal income, and consumer spending up in November.
  • 12/27 Closing Bell /Midday Holiday spending up 8.5% over last year, according to Mastercard.


Determine how much time you want to devote to this activity, and select podcasts to provide students with background information. 

Have students then tackle these discussion questions. This can be done individually, in groups, or as a class. Encourage students to cite examples from the podcasts in their responses.

  1. Holiday sales were up 8.5% over last year. Online sales were up even more.
    1. How did people alter their holiday shopping this year? 
    2. Do you think people bought more or just spent more on what they bought?
    3. Did your family shop any differently this year?
  2. In the end, did the global supply chain issues end up hurting retailers or consumers more?  How so?
  3. The rise in online shopping led to an increase in returns.  Do you think about the economics of returning online purchases for either you or the retailer when you make an online purchase?  Did you hear anything in that podcast that surprised you?

If you use this assignment in your class, please let us know how it went!

About the Authors

Beth Tallman

Beth Tallman entered the working world armed with an MBA in finance and thoroughly enjoyed her first career working in manufacturing and telecommunications, including a stint overseas. She took advantage of an involuntary separation to try teaching high school math, something she had always dreamed of doing. When fate stepped in once again, Beth jumped on the opportunity to combine her passion for numbers, money, and education to develop curriculum and teach personal finance at Oberlin College. Beth now spends her time writing on personal finance and financial education, conducts student workshops, and develops finance curricula and educational content. She is also the Treasurer of Ohio Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

Ren Makino

Ren has been working part-time at NGPF since 2014, interning through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, after graduating from college in 2020, he joined the team to work full time with a focus on teacher onboarding. He is also the editor of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world and try out new brewing methods.

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