It can be confusing living in the Land of Opportunity – there seem to be so many special, and specific days, to remember. I have enough trouble with birthdays.
I know Memorial Day officially starts summer and the wearing of white, and Labor Day ends it. I’ve got my head around Thanksgiving and understand about the Pilgrims and turkeys, bean casserole and roasted yams though they have never been a favourite.
What I can’t quite cope with yet is the frenzy that is Black Friday.
The leftovers are packaged up, frozen or tossed. The football game is over and an early night is a given if you want to be in line for the shops opening at 3 am for their busiest day of the year, preparing for that next celebratory day, Christmas. Black Friday, so-called because all the retailers anticipate being in the black by the day’s end which could well be midnight, is when the coupons come out for incredible discounts. Prices are seriously slashed and the temptation to purchase a sit-on lawnmower even though you live in an apartment is strong.
Families with baby-filled strollers clip heels, teenage girls intent on the latest fashion at a discount worth the wait chatter and giggle, youths eager to get the most updated electronic gizmo busily text the boy standing next to them, and mothers testy with lack of sleep and over-excited children followed by dour spouses brought along to carry trudge the malls.
Christmas music might be filling the air but the day is not always filled with holiday spirit. Keith Krantz was in line for a flat-screen TV at a Target in Buffalo, N.Y. As the doors opened at 4 am he was pinned to the metal frame and then pushed to the ground where the focused, and avaricious, shoppers merely stepped over the screaming man. Certainly not a good day for Lois Speelman, a centenarian Walmart greeter in Milwaukee, knocked to the ground by a shopping trolley whose driver did not want her items checked. Fortunately neither were seriously hurt but it seems the hunt for a bargain takes precedence over basic civility.
According to Bill Martin, founder of the research company ShopperTrak which counts shoppers at 70,000 shops but not the big discount stores such as Wal-mart or Target, retail spending rose very slightly from last year’s Black Friday to $10.7 billion.
On Small Business Saturday, a new name to remember in the shopping diary and which was debuted this year by OPEN, the small business unit of American Express, 100,000 customers were rewarded with a $25 credit statement if they spent at least $25 using their Amex card at local mom ‘n’ pop shops. The day was not given a great deal of advance coverage though Small Business Saturday Facebook page received 850,000 ‘likes’ in the couple of weeks it was up. I imagine next year the words will be part of the shopper’s lexicon.
So that’s Thursday, Friday and Saturday taken up. Sunday is a run-on shopping day with no special name – yet. Then we get to Cyber Monday.
On-line spending has apparently risen dramatically in November alone according to on-line research company IBM Score, rising 13% from 2009. Hence the urgent need for Cyber Monday. Emails were blocked with discounts available only if you clicked a button and bought immediately. Newspapers were full of tips to get the most out of your on-line shopping experience. One of them encouraged using credit cards as payment, which was interesting because in another article in the same paper, The Houston Chronicle, we were told that 8 million people have stopped sliding that little piece of plastic this year.
However you pay and on whatever day you shop, Christmas gift buying is losing it’s lustre despite all the glittery baubles hanging from the rafters. It’s Tuesday now and thankfully it is just Tuesday but I think I’ll wait a few days before I venture to the mall. I feel quite exhausted from all those names, almost bah-humbugish!