By Dennis Seid | NEMS Daily Journal
Hurry – it’s only 49 days before Christmas. OK, so I’m a little early, what with Halloween just last week and Thanksgiving nearly three weeks away.
But the shopping season has started. There’s a reason why open houses have been held, with many more on the way. Retailers want you to look around; more importantly, they want you to buy something.
The last two months of the year are the biggest for stores, when up to half of their sales and profits are registered. With the gyrations in the economy the past couple of years, the hope is that pent-up demand will send shoppers back into stores.
We all know Santa delivers the bulk of the gifts, but making the list and checking it twice is much tougher these days. With the 7 billionth person having been born last week, it’s easy for the jolly old elf to overlook something.
That, of course, is when parents come in, supplementing what Santa can’t accomplish. While Santa’s elves have just-in-time delivery and lean manufacturing in place, there’s only so much you can do when you have to travel around the world in less than 24 hours.
So, we adults have to trek to our local stores to help with the gifts.
And it’s not always an enjoyable experience, especially in the waning days of the season. The pressure is on as desperate shoppers try to check off their lists. Empty shelves and rainchecks just don’t cut it.
Tempers flare, blood pressure rises, patience wears thin. That’s why shopping early is a good thing. The stress levels are much more manageable that way.
In my first job out of college, I was in retail management. And my first Christmas was a nightmare.
Layaway was a mess. What had been an orderly system had descended into a chaotic jumble of misplaced bags and boxes. Employees were frustrated, customers were frustrated.
Then on Christmas Eve, as I was closing the doors at 8 p.m., people were trying to come in and shop. I was cursed for locking the doors.
“We still have to straighten the store, and we’d like to be home before midnight, too,” I tried to explain.
It didn’t help. I was the Grinch who stole Christmas.
Fast forward nearly 15 years, and I’m a Black Friday shopper for the first time ever. My wife and I manage to find that one toy that Santa wasn’t able to make in the shop.
We stood in a line that seemingly had no end. The checkouts were packed elbow to elbow, but we managed to survive after about an hour. I vowed never to do that again.
As a reporter, I’ve covered Black Friday for several years. I’ve gone out and talked to some of you insane people willing to spend the night on a sidewalk just to get a $50 couch or a $250 flatscreen.
The doorbuster deals are too great to pass up, I often hear.
After 20 years in retail and in reporting, call me jaded. There’s really nothing I’m willing to wait in line for that long. Give me the sleep. I’m willing to pay extra for whatever it is that’s on sale. If I miss out, I miss out.
But don’t let that stop the rest of you from shopping early and often. Santa needs your help. And the economy could use the boost, too.
Dennis Seid is the business editor at the Daily Journal. Contact him at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.