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The smell of retail fear?

Submitted by on Sunday, 2 November 2008 2 Comments

Didn’t there used to be another holiday between Halloween and Christmas? I have vague memories of something involving turkey and Pilgrims and family dinners when I was a kid.

No signs of that in my local grocery store today.

Instead, a poster announcing 20 to 30 percent off Christmas greeted me at the door.

Ramming Christmas down consumer’s throats before the first frost is on the pumpkin is nothing new. Even this year, the grocery store was a bit behind the times. Target started smooshing Halloween merchandise to make way for Christmas a while back. The local store has been out of candy corn for three weeks — a travesty I complained about bitterly.

And the Halloween clearance section was sparse at the grocery store — four carts of merchandise, mostly mini Tootsie Pops and deli cookies. At 99 cents the cookies tempted me, until I saw egg listed on the label. It made me wonder where everything went over night, because Halloween napkins and dishes were plentiful when I was in the store Wednesday. They didn’t have candy corn, though. Is this shortage related to ethanol, too?

If I wanted candy canes or chocolate bells, I could have stocked up at 20 percent off. I didn’t see anyone buying, though plenty of parents were battling the kid attractor factor. “Oh, look! Santa Claus! Can we have it.” I chuckled to myself at the beleaguered dad and was happy the guys were home.

To discount Christmas this deeply from the get-go struck me as strange. And a bit desperate.

Maybe corporate honchos read Friday’s news reports and freaked out: American consumers bought 0.3 percent less last month, the biggest drop in four years.

And, although final numbers aren’t in, the U.S. Commerce Department thinks spending might have dropped 2.5 percent in the third quarter. That would be the largest dip since 1990, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

So what’s that mean for you and me?

Possibly bargains for those who can afford them. At least, on things we don’t really need. On things we do need — toothpaste, laundry detergent — companies still are showing growing profits and trying to figure out how much much of a price increase we’ll take before we start brushing with baking soda and beating our clothes on rocks along the creek bank.

Or maybe it means they’ve artificially set prices higher from the start so they can offer deeper discounts more often in an attempt to appeal to frugal consumers.

I’m not buying. At least not candy canes on Nov. 1.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • MtnMom said:

    I am so glad you pointed this out! There was Christmas stuff out at Ross when I was shopping for family camp in August! Thanksgiving gets a token shelf with some autumn items and plastic turkeys but that’s about it in most stores. Yet it is one of my favorite holidays! It is spiritual, patriotic, and a wonderful time for family and friend to simply enjoy and love each other. Maybe thankfulness will make a comeback in these tough economic times when we are forced to get off of our materialistic merry-go-rounds and look at what is really important in life. I hope so because I miss the pause we used to take as a society to count our endless blessings and make it a point to show love and appreciation to each other.
    Blessings to ya my friend and hug those youngun’s for me!

  • debra said:

    Amen, MtnMom!

    The things I remember most about Thanksgiving as a kid — other than Pawpaw ranting as he watched football and eating so much he had to loosen the top of his trousers — was the family time. It was one of those rare occasions when the extended family was together under one roof. It was mighty crowded, but that’s part of what made it special.

    And I am with you 10,000 percent about getting off the materialistic merry-go-round. Had another epiphany toward that end today as Dad and I fought the guys to clean up the HazMat scene of a house, throwing away too much useless junk that was largely forgotten three minutes after it walked through the door. Until, of course, we tried to throw it away. Then it suddenly became exciting. “I thought this was going to be fun, but we’re throwing away fun, happy toys,” Big Guy said. So we backed off and lived to fight another day. Like, tonight, after he goes to sleep. :)