The issue: Holiday shopping season is so important that it’s steadily taken over the fall calendar
The Christmas and holiday shopping season is immensely important to retailers; so much so that the official kickoff, the day after Thanksgiving, is called “Black Friday” because that’s supposedly when retailers finally begin turning a profit for the year, going from red ink to black.
CONSUMER SPENDING is said to account for 70 percent of gross domestic product, and while some economists believe that figure is artificially inflated, it still counts for a lot. Thus, analysts worry about consumers, their solvency and their confidence — basically, their willingness to spend.
The Christmas shopping season — retailers prefer to call it the “holiday” shopping season because retail is nothing if not inclusive of all faiths and, besides, there are those New Year’s sales to consider — is so important that it’s steadily taking over the fall calendar.
At Thanksgiving, Santa is now beginning to show up with the pilgrims. While Halloween is a big spending occasion in itself — $8 billion this year, predicts the National Retail Federation — it’s still an occasion for merchants to remind people, with a certain sense of urgency, that there are only 50-some shopping days left until Christmas.
Columbus Day is a long way from Christmas, but you know that retailers are eying the day that honors an explorer whose reputation has taken a considerable beating lately for bringing disease, subjugation and slavery to the New World. If anyone can refurbish the old explorer’s reputation, it’s retail advertisers.
Retailers can hardly be blamed for this. They want to capture buyers at their most confident, but consumer confidence has been up and down this year. It’s now at its highest since February after hitting a low in August, so merchants can’t be blamed for casting a wide net, time-wise.
BUT THIS PHENOMENON of the creeping Christmas began to be worrisome when on a Saturday in September a bundle of Christmas catalogs arrived in the mail offering, among other delights, $1,200 artificial trees and $250 worth of ornaments to hang on them.
We know Christmas is starting earlier and earlier and we understand why. But really, the autumn equinox?