With online shopping carts already brimming with Cyber Week deals, 2021 is poised to be a record holiday spending season, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail survey, which polls U.S. consumers and executives heading into the retail sector’s most important months. But as American families continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic and worsening inflation, the season will be brighter for some than others.
More than 11 percent of respondents, mostly from low-income households, don’t plan to spend anything at all this holiday season. That’s double the rate Deloitte recorded in 2020 and the highest it’s seen in a decade. Meanwhile, high-income households have seen their holiday spending power increase, another stark reminder of how the pandemic and related economic disruptions have worsened inequality in the U.S. and globally.
“Perhaps the most sobering fact about the holiday shopping season is that low-income groups continue to suffer,” Oleksandr Yampolskyi, director of retail and wholesale group leader at Deloitte Ukraine, said of the findings in a statement. “Their average holiday spending has decreased almost twofold in the last two years.”
Pay Away the Layaway, a nonprofit that pays off layaway balances for children’s gifts, clothing and necessities during back-to-school season and the holidays, is once again looking to ensure that every child has something to smile about this season, regardless of their background.
2020 was one of Pay Away the Layaway’s “biggest years ever” as donors rallied behind families struggling amidst the pandemic, founder Lee Karchawer told Yahoo Life last year. The organization calls its supporters “layaway angels” — a term that includes individuals who make small donations online, high-profile donors like television personality Montel Williams and Dallas Mavericks center Dwight Powell who step up to clear hundreds of layaway balances at a time, and corporate donors that leverage their networks to benefit the nonprofit.
T-Mobile is one of the backers looking to make 2021 another banner year for the organization. Every year, the mobile company rallies its employees, customers and fans to support an outstanding nonprofit in a campaign it fittingly calls Season of Giving. Past beneficiaries include Feeding America and Team Rubicon, and this year T-Mobile is brightening the holiday season for hundreds of families with Pay Away the Layaway.
“We chose Pay Away the Layaway because we understand how much of a financial strain the pandemic has put on families,” the company told TriplePundit in an email. “This year Americans are anticipated to experience the greatest insecurity toward holiday spending in the last decade. Pay Away the Layaway is an amazing organization working to make a difference for families in need by paying off their layaway balances that include gifts for their children, such as games, toys, books, backpacks, clothes and coats.”
T-Mobile will donate up to $1 million to Pay Away the Layaway, including a $250,000 initial donation to pay off layaway balances at military exchanges and Burlington Stores on Giving Tuesday (Nov. 30). T-Mobile customers can support the campaign through click-to-give on the T-Mobile Tuesdays app, triggering a $1 donation for each click up to $300,000, and anyone can contribute $5 to the campaign by re-tweeting the brand handle’s #TMobileGivesBack post, up to $200,000.
The campaign, which runs from Nov. 30 through Dec. 14, is also an annual favorite among T-Mobile employees. “Employees across the country [are] fired-up to make a difference,” the company told 3p. “They are passionate about and support their local communities.”
Each T-Mobile employee gets $20 to give to their chosen charity each year through Benevity, and the company is also matching employees’ personal contributions to Pay Away the Layaway up to $250,000. Employees can also volunteer for their favorite local nonprofits to benefit Pay Away the Layaway, with T-Mobile matching employee volunteer time with $10 in charitable contributions per hour, up to $2,000 a year.
“Our Season of Giving is all about coming together during a time of year that should be joyous, but is often challenging for far too many families …. and we want to make a difference for those who may need a little help,” Janice V. Kapner, T-Mobile chief communications and brand officer, told 3p. “We want it to be easy for everyone to help give back, so just one click or tweet can really make a difference. It’s community supporting community – and we hope everyone will join us!”
Will a paid layaway balance solve the persistent challenges of wealth and income inequality in the U.S.? Of course not. But it can make the season a bit more special for a child in need, and that’s a victory in itself — not to mention a compelling conversation-starter when it comes to helping people think differently about what their neighbors may be facing in these still highly uncertain times.
“We're grateful and thrilled to spread joy alongside T-Mobile this holiday season,” Pay Away the Layaway founder Lee Karchawer told 3p. “Knowing we will make thousands more children smile this year with T-Mobile's support is a dream come true. This partnership will change lives like we've never been able to before, all in the name of creating a kinder, gentler world.”
For T-Mobile, this season of generosity complements year-round efforts to build more equitable systems in response to the pandemic — including Project 10 Million, an investment of more than $10.7 billion to provide free internet and free mobile hotspots for underserved children in partnership with school districts.
As a values-driven company — as highlighted in its most recent Corporate Responsibility Report — T-Mobile says it is committed to doing good this (and every season), which means not only doing right by its customers, but also others of those in need.
This article series is sponsored by T-Mobile and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.
Image courtesy of Pay Away the Layaway