According to the latest survey from the Consumer Electronic Association, about 60 percent of adults plan to shop in stores or online during the holiday weekend, with the average person indicating they'll fork over $218 for gifts and merchandise from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.
This is a sharp increase from 2011, where shoppers said they'd spend $159.
For the ultimate gold lover on your shopping list, one amazing purchase you can nab is a Christmas tree complete with Disney characters and gold leaf ribbons made of 88 pounds of pure gold from a jewelry store in Tokyo, according to Reuters.
The ornamental tree will set you back $4.2 million, but there's also a smaller version available for $243,000.
But that's not the only thing that has grabbed my attention this holiday season. Here are 5 other amazing consumer trends that are happening around the world.
And two recent columns in particular on gold generated a larger-than-normal response.
The comments were related to the two-parter on gold prices that we published on Nov. 5 ("The Secret Gold Standard") and Nov. 13 ("Why Obama's Victory Means Higher Gold Prices").
Let's take a look at what you had to say.
The comments related to the "Secret Gold Standard" column were especially intriguing because a number of you thought I was advocating a literal return to the "gold standard."
I wasn't, of course. I employed the term as a convenient metaphor to try and help folks understand how the world's central banks were adding gold reserves for the first time in nearly a quarter century.
In fact, a global return to the gold standard isn't possible - there literally isn't enough gold to allow that to happen. It would crimp money-supply growth in such a way that global economic growth would be stymied.
A number of you wrote in to make that same point - including one reader who actually performed all the necessary calculations to make his case.
Al K. wrote in to ask: "Some analysts believe gold will drop further & others believe gold has bottomed out now. What do the experts of Money Morning believe?"
Since Al requested an "expert" opinion - a fair request - I put in a call to Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald.
The Outlook For Gold PricesRight now, Keith explained, there are two separate outlooks for gold - one for the near-term and another for the longer-term.
Would a "golden dividend" be enough to get you interested in gold stocks?
If not gold, what about silver?
Neither one of these options even existed when I first started talking about them just three months ago.
But thanks in part to billionaire resource investor Eric Sprott, today's investors can benefit from a dividend payable in physical gold or silver.
Sprott had sent a letter to silver producers, suggesting they reinvest some 25% of their earnings back into silver, rather than in cash at the bank.
That took my earlier discussion about gold and silver dividends to a totally new level: dividends in kind.
These aren't paper profits, but real, hold-in-your-hand gold and silver dividends.
For precious metals investors, these "hard asset" dividends make perfect sense.
Today, one innovative gold and silver producer offers investors the best of both worlds.
Finally: Physical Gold and Silver DividendsIn a bid to gain the "first mover" advantage, Gold Resource Corp. (NYSEAmex: GORO), a low-cost gold producer, is launching a gold and silver dividend program on April 10, 2012.
The company has already paid out $41 million in dividends to its shareholders over the past year and a half.
But now they are offering shareholders a unique option by partnering with Gold Bullion International (GBI). GBI is a New York-based precious metals provider to individual and institutional investors, with storage vaults in New York, Salt Lake City, London, Zurich, Singapore, and Australia.
Essentially, GORO shareholders can elect to convert their cash dividends into Gold Resource Corp. "Double Eagles" consisting of one ounce 0.999 fine gold and/or one ounce 0.999 fine silver rounds.
These "Double Eagles" will be drawn from GORO's physical treasury and placed into the shareholder's "individual bullion account" with GBI.