After Midnight

2 11 2011

Oh, the doom and gloomsayers are at it again. According to our evil prognosticators, this Christmas is going to be one of empty stockings. Or lumps of coal at best. It’s the economy, stupid. People are going to be pinching pennies, and cutting people off their gift list.

Heck, you can 44 more cents each time you trim someone from your Christmas card list, too.

Retailers like Target and Macy’s have already announced they are going to open at midnight on Black Friday, which is another way of saying a couple hours after you have eaten the last piece of Thanksgiving pecan pie. But wait, there’s more.

Walmart is planning to give us all a sneak peak of its Black Friday sale items, and is in fact planning a big early-November sale for this Saturday just to get us in the spending mood.

Which tells me one thing: Retailers are going to get desperate this year. As a consumer, this is good news. I’m holding on to my money and waiting…waiting until they get a little more desperate.

Why let good money chase bad bargains anyway? The best is yet to come.

With Walmart touting its Layaway program as the best thing since shopping carts, you know things have to be bad. It was just a few years ago that WM boldly told cash-stressed shoppers to just suck it up and buy the dang stuff now. They weren’t going to let people use their stores as free storage facilities.

It’s amazing how hard times and consumer backlash can make companies reconsider (hmmm…anyone want to talk about banks dropping their debit card charges?).

In spite of all this, analysts predict we will still spend a little over $700 per household this year on Christmas gifts, down a few bucks from last year. I am always confused, though, by how this is calculated. Do they survey people on the street and ask them to pick a number…any number? Who among us really has any idea how much we’re going to spend? And let’s not forget the Number One Gift Recipient…ourselves. The 1-for-1 rule is pretty common these days. For each gift we buy for someone else, we lavish ourselves with an equal or better one.

Why not. We deserve it. And I think this is a far better explanation for buying-ourselves-out-of-our-dumps than the Big Gulp research I discussed yesterday. Given the choice between a 44oz Coke (or a tall Fat Tire), and a new i-gadget, I’ll splurge on the latter every time.

And then go have the Fat Tire. So there.

As for those research findings, they are idiopathic at best. As for this year’s holiday sales, it is still an inchoate shopping season. We’ve got a long way to go, baby.

And I sure as heck am not going to be out there beating the sidewalk at midnight. I’ll wait until they drop the prices during daylight.

Dr “Gonna Let It All Hang Out” Gerlich

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