‘Tis The Season — For Hitting The Stores

We’re now in Day Two of what’s termed the busiest shopping weekend of the year — but for me at least, it’s Day Two of plan “Stay As Far Away From The Stores As Possible”.   As my friends and family, as well as the followers of the blog, already know, I once worked in retail as a store manager for the now defunct KB Toys.  Frankly, that whole hectic experience, particularly at this time of year — as rewarding as it was in many ways — was enough to sour me on the more commercial aspects of the Christmas season.

That’s not to say I didn’t do some shopping yesterday — I did, but from the comfort of my living room in front of my laptop.  No crowds, no fighting for a place to park or a spot in line, no rude people pushing and shoving for a chance to get that last Blu-Ray player on the shelf.   Online shopping gives you the opportunity to get most of those same Black Friday deals from stores’ online sites while avoiding a number of the headaches that go along with being out there in person.

While estimated sales numbers on the day won’t be available until this week at the earliest, I won’t be stunned if it turns out that consumer spending is down again this holiday season.  The state of economy, the ever-increasing unemployment rate, and the general sense of unease that’s being felt by the American consumer these days would seem to all be leading towards that result.  But is that such a bad thing?

I don’t think so.  Don’t get me wrong, though — I certainly don’t want to see stores struggle with lesser sales during this period.  After all, that could lead to another rash of store closings and company bankruptcies around the retail world, and that doesn’t benefit anyone.  The last thing I want to see if people losing their jobs around the Christmas season — my wife and I went through that once already, and I wouldn’t wish those emotions on anyone.

But it’s not a bad thing if people use the current economic climate to focus on what the Christmas Holidays are about — or at least, what they’re supposed to be about.  Raised a Catholic, the holiday obviously has a special meaning for me — but you don’t have to be religious at all to focus on the aspects of the season that should appeal to all of us:  time spent with the family and friends who mean so much to us, an appreciation for whatever the good things are in each of our lives, and a feeling of good will towards our fellow men and women on this earth.

Over the recent years, Christmas has become over-commercialized (though anyone who’s seen A Charlie Brown Christmas will tell you that’s it’s not anything new), a contest to see who can give the most gifts, and who’s got the most expensive baubles under their tree.  The current financial situation of many — and with it, a  concerned effort by people to not spend beyond their means this year (with the aggressive, antagonistic, and often unethical actions by the credit card companies of late, more people than ever before are eschewing the use of credit to fund their holiday spending) — means that many are hopefully beginning to focus on the more intangible aspects of the holiday you can’t stick on a Visa card to pay for.  That’s not a bad thing — and you don’t need to find a place to park at a crowded mall to do it.


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