When I was in my late teens retail stores in my area began opening on Sundays. Even then, at that tender age, not quite an adult I realized that this seemingly harmless move was going to alter modern culture and family dynamics for evermore. In my opinion this was the tipping point that started the fall of family values and respect for cultural traditions and the rise of the retail junkie nation.
The argument at the time was that part-timers would welcome the extra hours of work and families would enjoy the convenience of having more time to get their shopping done. Here’s what has really happened.
The once sacred day of the week that was dedicated as a day of rest for everybody became just another day of the week and all retail workers are now expected to be available to work all shifts on every day. That was the first change but at the time, stores where still closed on holidays. You still got to spent those special days with family and friends. For a little while at least.
Then a few crafty marketers attempting to beat out the competition introduced the savvy shopper to the “Holiday Madness Sale”, a special once a year or once a season up to 50% off event. While their competition was at home enjoying the day off they were raking in the profits and getting rid of old stock to boot. The shoppers lined up in droves. People would buy stuff just because it was such a deal and so the addiction began.
It wasn’t too long before retailers, under the excuse that they were just offering what the consumer wants, began opening every day of the year but one. That one being the grand daddy, retailer’s bonanza, presents under the tree holiday we all know as Christmas day. Believe me when I tell you they would love to open that day too but hey, even Scrooge let Bob Cratchit have that day off.
Instead, to capitalize on Christmas day, the retail industry chose a much more dangerous assault on your free time and discretionary income . They have chosen the relentless tactic of mass multi-media marketing offering up non-essential or luxury items that we’ve all just got to have. They create advertisements that evoke memories of festive family gatherings, Norman Rockwell holiday images and peace on earth, good will to man, that can all be yours if you just buy their product. If that doesn’t entice you to buy then how about a pre-Christmas sale or do not pay until next year. Retailer will do what ever they can to get you hooked and part with your cash.
We have become addicted. It’s like trying heroin and expecting to only use it recreationally. There is always the newer, improved version, the shinier trinket, the bigger screen, the trendier outfit. Buy me now, live for today, you can always put it on credit and pay for it later. Oh my god it’s a shopping high!
Many retailers make their yearly profits on the Christmas shopping season alone. It’s a high stakes game and the competition is fierce. You walk out of the mall Oct. 31st dressed as ghosts and goblins and wake up Nov. 1st to silver bells and Santa’s coming to town. I actually saw my first Christmas T.V. commercial this year on Oct. 30th.
But the real race starts on the American Thanksgiving. It use to be the day after but why wait, why not digest that turkey dinner while shopping for “Black Friday” specials. This year people have already started lining up for Black Friday sales two full weeks before the actual day. If that’s not an addiction I don’t know what is especially considering that it’s now Black Friday week not just a one day Holiday Madness Sales event.
After American Thanksgiving big box retailers begin opening 24 hours a day until Christmas eve because, you never know when you may want to shop at 3 a.m. Amazingly enough people actually do.
If you work in retail you will agree with me when I say, Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year. For 6 weeks you work your ass off, deal with rude customers, fight traffic and crowds all for a one day holiday. I repeat, one day, because working in retail that’s all you get and in the immortal words of Ebenezer Scrooge, “Be there all the earlier in the morning”. There’s a boxing day sale to set up.
If the shopping junkies didn’t get their fill before Christmas, they will be sure to gorge on the post Christmas price slashing. It’s the season that just keeps on giving.
In North America shopping has become a major pass time. Bored? Let’s go to the mall. Feeling down? How about a little retail therapy. It doesn’t matter if you really need anything, shopping will fill the voids in your life you didn’t even know you had by giving you a momentary buying high.
It doesn’t matter what your retail addiction is, there’s a store as close as your computer. Now you can buy underwear in your underwear and have a courier deliver a plain papered package discretely to your door. No one will ever know the extent of your shopping obsession. I certainly won’t tell.
And what will become of a retail shopping junkie once she has maxed out her credit cards and filled her home to over flowing with stuff. Has she bottomed out? Is there help for her or can she turn her life around and start a lucrative career in reality T.V. by getting on the show Hoarders. Who can say.
Why don’t you meet me at the mall and we can ponder this deep issue over lunch at the food court. While we’re there, there is a sale on this brand of undies that I’m addicted to. I really don’t need any but……..