Tag Archives: retail sales

Why I Don’t Shop on Black Friday Anymore.

I woke up super early on Thanksgiving morning. It wasn’t by choice; it just happened. I tried to lay in bed in the hopes of falling back to sleep, but when it didn’t happen by 4:30, I decided I was suppose to get up. So I did, and started my morning routine. It had been a month since I was at the gym, thanks to a nasty cold that wouldn’t go away (remnants of which still remain). So out of the door I went just after 6 o’clock in the morning, with predictably almost no traffic, and only about a dozen of other early morning risers in the gym already working out.

I was happy to learn that the gym would be closing early so that the workers could be home with their families that evening for Thanksgiving dinner, and that they wouldn’t reopen until 7:00 on Friday morning. Though my intentions were to wake up early and get my workout out of the way, I actually overslept a bit after turning off my 6 a.m. alarm. Funny how that worked out. The morning I wanted to sleep in, I woke up super early, and the morning I wanted to wake up early, I overslept!

 I was expecting a larger crowd at the gym. While there were more people there than the crazy time I arrived on Thursday, there still weren’t as many there as I thought might be following all the overeating and high calorie foods from the day before. But the parking lots of Kohl’s and Walmart sure were full!   

I’m not knocking anyone who decided to get up early to shop, although I question those who camped out, given the temperatures last night. But I do wonder how many of the people out there have just gotten caught up in all of the buzz and “excitement” of the whole Black Friday phenomenon.

I’ve been part of that Black Friday frenzy in the past. If I were to be honest, I loved it! Back when my nieces and nephews were younger; at that age where they were expecting something from their Auntie, I would go out and try to find good deals. Sometimes I would even shop on behalf of my mom, who didn’t care for the Black Friday crowds, but liked the Black Friday prices; especially since she had so many grandchildren to buy for. Now, all but one of them are young adults in their 20s and 30s, and in general, sadly, we hardly ever get to spend the holidays together anymore.

But today, just as with the past four or five years, I simply asked myself, “Is there anything out there that you need that you don’t already have?”  The answer of course was no. When I calculated the fact that there was also nothing out there I was planning to purchase for friends or family that just had to be bought today either, it definitely wasn’t worth it to me to be out there. 

Moreover, I wonder how many people; namely, the early morning shoppers, even know the origins or meaning behind “Black Friday” and where the term came from? According to History.com:

The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to holiday shopping but to financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.

The most commonly repeated story behind the post-Thanksgiving shopping-related Black Friday tradition links it to retailers. As the story goes, after an entire year of operating at a loss (“in the red”) stores would supposedly earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers blew so much money on discounted merchandise. Though it’s true that retail companies used to record losses in red and profits in black when doing their accounting, this version of Black Friday’s origin is the officially sanctioned—but inaccurate—story behind the tradition.

So basically, when you run out to shop the day after Thanksgiving, buying a lot of stuff for the holidays — often things you “want,” rather than what you “need” — simply because the items have been discounted, you’re basically supporting the retail industry making profits at the expense of your own bank account and personal budget taking a loss.

As I’ve said to many friends and family members, it doesn’t matter how great a sale is; if you’re spending money on things you don’t need, you’re still wasting your money.

Be careful that your Black Friday shopping doesn’t turn into Red Saturday regrets, and January depression as the credit card bills start to roll in.

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When Stores Close, Where Do People Go?

Back before the Christmas holidays, I remember hearing news about the toy store company, Toys R Us, closing some of its stores. I didn’t take a serious note of it; first, because I don’t have kids, and my youngest nephew is 16 years old. So it’s been quite a while since I’ve shopped in any of their stores. Second, news of the closing of “some” of their stores was not unlike the reoccurring news of Kmart, Sears, Macy’s, even Sam’s Club. It had become an all too real part of the news cycle. Another month, another retail store filing bankruptcy, mostly to reorganize, and in the process, closing several of their stores.

But then earlier this month, that news changed. It was no longer just some stores closing, but rather, news broke that the company planned to sell or close all 800 stores in the US. The part that jumped out to me in the articles I read was that as many as 33,000 employees would be affected!

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From what I understand, Toys R Us had declared bankruptcy back in Fall 2017 because of an almost EIGHT BILLION DOLLAR debt it was struggling to pay. Let that sink in… Other than the position we’ve allowed ourselves to get into as a country, where else do you hear about a business continuing to operate for so long with that kind of outstanding debt?

One of the things that came to mind was wondering how many employees took any action upon originally hearing about the company’s bankruptcy? How many people in upper and middle management pulled out their resumes and started working on updating their information? Or who of the hourly employees started looking for other places hiring in their community? How many even knew or gave thought about the financial instability of their company — even though the information was readily available and reported on?

Perhaps it’s hard to say with certainty what any one of us would do, given the same scenario. Or maybe you DO know, because you have already been in this situation. But I ask these questions because I’m curious as to why people stay in a place, making little effort to seek alternative employment, when they know the clock has already started ticking down towards the day when they will lose their job. An announcement that a company you work for is closing should signal that it’s time to get serious about making a change; preparing for reality — the new normal that’s about to fall up you. 

One article I read talked about the gap between the time when some people can apply for unemployment, and the timing it takes to actually start receiving an unemployment check. And while that money is there for such a time as this, it won’t be the same amount as what most soon-to-be former employees have become accustomed to living on. By its design, it’s suppose to just tie people over until they find that next job. For some, they’ll have one the day their store closes. For others, it may take weeks or months.

So my question for you is, how prepared are you if you were to find out today that you will no longer have your job by the end of the year? Or by the end of the month? Maybe even by the end of the week?

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In a list posted by Clark, a retail and consumer news site, some of the other stores scheduled to close at least some, if not all of their stores this year, include: Abercrombie & Fitch, Foot Locker, Best Buy cell phone stores, J.C. Penney, Bon-Ton, Sam’s Club, Macy’s, J. Crew, Gap and Banana Republic, Teavana, and Michael Kor’s. Additionally, Ascena Retail Group, which is the women’s clothing retailer that operates the brands Ann Taylor, Loft, Dress Barn, Lane Bryant, Justice and several others. (https://clark.com/shopping-retail/major-retailers-closing-2018/)

Christmas in July

Today marks the start of what I call the period of “mixed feelings.” While I’ve enjoyed the six weeks since school ended, I have just six weeks before the Fall semester starts up, and almost that much work to do in preparation for my classes. And while summer just officially arrived less than two weeks ago, this July also indicates that we are now headed down the second half of the year. It’s weird…we count down to summer, and before you know it, we’re counting back up to winter. And with that…Christmas!

Lest you think I’m one who can’t live in the moment, let me explain.

I don’t know where the phrase “Christmas in July,” came from. But after working in the music industry for almost two decades, I do know that most artists record their Christmas albums this month. Why so early? Well, it’s obvious. To get the recording completed, mastered, packaged, promoted, and shipped/distributed in time for the post-Halloween but pre-Thanksgiving radio play of the first single, and to take advantage of the short sales period, they have to start working on it in July. Just like fashion designers are already planning to showcase their spring and summer 2017 lines this fall, so that you’re ready to purchase them in season.

During my summer vacation, the local Hobby Lobby in the town where I was visiting friends already had not only their Autumn display, complete with Halloween pumpkins and Thanksgiving wreaths, but also two aisles of Christmas decor up exactly 24 hours before the Summer Solstice!

Even the Hallmark Channel has figured out a way to get in on the craziness. For the first two weeks of July, their Movie & Mysteries channel will air their Christmas movies from past years, while promoting the new ones coming up this holiday season (which for them, traditionally begins on Halloween night).

But rather than fight against it, why not take advantage of it?!

This weekend, you can begin finding some awesome sales on two seasons of stuff — the summer season we’re in, and the winter season that’s still over five months away. Retailers are moving summer out to make room for the fall. Along the way, they’re putting last year’s winter items back out, in the hopes of not having to warehouse it, so that they can fill the racks with the new season’s display. If you’re like me, it’s just too hot outside to get in the right frame of mind to purchase a winter coat in July. But for those who know you’ve got at least three full months of great weather conducive to the outdoors, then why not take advantage of drastic price reductions on summer — like bathing suits and beach towels, clothes and shoes, outdoor patio furniture and accessories (like outdoor pillows and rugs), outdoor lighting and candles, grills, and even air conditioners.

For those of you who took advantage of the mid-summer mark downs last year, I’m sure you enjoyed pulling out your summer patio chairs with the new cushions that you got for 50% or more less than your friends; and putting up that table umbrella that cost you 60% or 70% less than the one your neighbor bought in season. And this week, when everyone paid full price for those red, white, and blue flag colored plates for their Independence Day festivities this weekend, you pulled that box out from the closet that you collected  paper plates, cups and napkins in from last year, and gladly signed up to provide the paper products for all of the cookouts and picnics you’ve been invited to! Because you are not just a smart shopper, but you understand the value of saving money and making it a purposeful act to plan ahead.

So to you, and everyone else, Happy 4th of July Independence Day everyone!