I thought I was hearing things the other day when I went into a store and heard Christmas music but it would seem the event was quite real. It isn’t even mid-November yet and stores are in full-on Christmas mode. I have nothing against stores. There is a rich heritage of retailers in my family dating back through my grandfather and his chain of luggage stores in Detroit. Retailers are not bad. This is the time of year when they can make up for all the shortcomings in sales they had during the rest of the calendar year. What is troubling to me is the way the season has gotten out of hand. It used to be Black Friday came and everyone camped out overnight or showed up at stores hours before they opened in order to get some deal they couldn’t live without. Then the madness would start at 6 or 7 A.M. with a stampede going through the doors and fighting one another for the limited quantity of the item they desired. The rest of the day was heavy shopping on good sales. That kicked off the season. It wasn’t fun for anyone but it was manageable. Retailers could have a day off with their families on Thanksgiving like they should and customers were only crazy for a few hours. Then a store (Best Buy I think) opened at 5 A.M. Another opened at 4. K-Mart upped the ante by opening regular hours on Thanksgiving Day itself. That was sacrilege. I hoped it would be a fruitless effort but I was to be disappointed again; just like all those K-Mart employees. Most of the stores came close and started opening at midnight Friday. Even that was not enough to satisfy the insatiable appetites of the American consumer so the heavyweights, Wal-Mart and Target started opening (or at least started their sales) late in the day on Thursday. They have already posted their ads on line so you can plan ahead. The Thanksgiving Holiday has been trampled like a welcome mat and ignored just as much. Soon we won’t even make a turkey. We’ll just make turkey sandwiches or subs that people can eat while in line. Then the day will come in our future (hopefully after I’m long gone) when a child in that line will ask, “Why do we have to have turkey on our sandwiches, anyway?” Back here in our own time the marketing machine has not stopped. Every day I receive emails about flash sales good for 4 hours and other sales in Pre-Thanksgiving ads. Every retailer is doing it. We’re talking about everyone from Bath and Body Works to Victoria’s Secret. Every day I get new ads. I have to check my email every day, not because I look forward to it, but in order to keep the number of emails in my inbox manageable. What began as a crazy day has become a crazy month and I can’t help but wonder how much it’s really helping those retailers. When I see an email for something on sale now I can’t help but wonder, “Will it be cheaper Black Friday, or Cyber Monday?” How many people don’t buy because they’re waiting? Even so, it must be working or else they wouldn’t be saturating the internet with their ads. What started as a crazy day has turned into a crazy month. What a pity for the retail workers.
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