Hump Day: Early holiday sales promotions annoying but inevitable

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I was going to write another sad-ish column this week, but I just noticed that the headlines in the last two columns contained the word “tragedy,” so perhaps I’ll go with something a bit more cheerful. Shopping!

I came across an article over the weekend while doing research for my weekly newsletter. The article bemoaned the fact that the retail world is always far ahead of the public when it comes to holiday shopping.

For example, Halloween candy is out in certain stores already. I’ve already seen people posting photos on Facebook of candy corn that’s for sale at the local bulk food place. After a trip there the other day for something, Halloween is in full swing.

And any Costco shopper will tell you that they already have some Christmas stuff out. So do some of the greeting card and gift shops. Again, much disgust is spewed online and in conversations with friends, but the bottom line (hint! hint!) is that retailers are doing this for one reason: yeah, the bottom line.

Promoting seasonal items long before their time is commonplace now. Perhaps people 50 years ago complained about Christmas shopping starting way too early — like December 1. Ha! Well, if they were still around today, their heads would most likely explode. December? That’s when the Valentine’s Day stuff comes out!

It’s the same old thing every year. It won’t change, so if it drives you really crazy you might as well just invest in a padded room now because it will likely only get worse. I still remember an old Frank and Ernest comic strip from many years ago that made me laugh. Frank and Ernest are walking through a shopping centre when they pass a sign that says, ‘Santa arrives tomorrow!’ One turns to the other and asks, “Is it March already?”

One trend I find particularly troubling around here will rear its ugly head again this fall with the ‘Black Friday’ sale promotions by Canadian retailers. If there’s something that drives me batty, it’s that. Black Friday is the day after American Thanksgiving, the day considered to be the busiest shopping day of the year. (Apparently, this isn’t true. The busiest shopping day of the year is usually the Saturday before Christmas.)

Canadian stores are likely just piggybacking on the intense amount of American Black Friday advertising being thrown at us here in Canada — and here in New Brunswick, too. We’re certainly not immune from it if you watch any amount of television or see the numerous ads online. The problem I have is that there’s no such thing as Black Friday in Canada. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. It’s simply a fake holiday made up by the retail industry to shop.

And we do shop! Why? Because there are sales. Yes, people shop when there are sales. It makes no sense to buy something for full price when you can buy it at half price, does it? I can’t remember the last time I bought laundry detergent at full price. I just don’t. I buy what’s on sale — and usually the sales are excellent, especially in pharmacies.

I just can’t imagine American retailers adopting Boxing Day sales, can you? I have to admit, though, that some of the violence at those Black Friday sales certainly reminds me of boxing – literally. If you put a television on sale for half price, people will literally punch each other in the face to get to it. Ah, nothing says “Happy birthday, Jesus!” like a black eye and picking your teeth up off the floor, does it? Brings a tear to my eye, I tell ya. I can hear the choirs of heavenly angels singing now.

Today, I see shopping as a sport, especially with retailers that will match pricing you find elsewhere — even online. Here’s the thing: you can get discounts off even the sale price at many electronic stores. Find one that says they won’t be undersold. Usually, they’ll match the price of any in-stock item at a Canadian retailer.

I don’t care what a retailer’s website or newspaper ad says. Even if something is on sale, there’s usually a better price out there in Canada. Just Google “price comparison” and “Canada” and then the item you’re looking for, such as “camera,” Websites will pop up that do much of the sale price searching for you. I did this over the weekend and saved myself a cool $300 on an item. Not bad, eh?

The Internet can be good for many things and bad for many things, but if you’re looking for big-ticket items, it pays to do your pricing research, especially on electronics. I prefer to buy local – and I do whenever I can. But if I can get a great deal elsewhere, then hey – why not? It’s my money. I worked for it.

I make no apologies for wanting to save a bit of cash, but I fully understand and support shopping locally. It’s a rough time to be in the local retail business, I know. With large retailers matching ridiculously low prices elsewhere in the country, it’s rough!

The weather has been so nice lately that it seems absurd to be thinking of ghosts, goblins, elves and reindeer. But whether we like it or not, our friendly retail industry will encourage us to start shopping early for whatever holiday is coming next.

My advice: we should all just give in and enjoy the sales. It’s a lot cheaper and less stressful. As Wilma and Betty used to say on The Flintstones, “Cha-a-a-a-rge it!”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.