Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Santa knows -- the future.

I think I write this blog entry every year. Not because I plan to, but because every year around this time I start reading these inane predictions for Christmas.

This year, they -- the media pundits and "experts" -- are predicting a better Christmas. "Shoppers are Back!" "Retailers are Bullish on Christmas Sales!"

The cover to Barron's proclaims, "Here comes a Holiday Surprise."

Here's the thing. There is no conceivable way they know that. It's total guesswork. They might as well use the I-Ching to give them answers.

Hell, half the time I don't know what kind of Christmas I'm really having at Pegasus Books until the ACTUAL WEEK OF CHRISTMAS!!!

Customer polling? Really? Personally, I have no idea how much I'll spend -- it'll depend on what I find, and how much it perfectly matches what I think my friends and family want, and the price, and ...well, there are no end of variables.

I'll go so far as to say, "All shopping is local." Sure, there may in the end be a national average, which will be up or down a few percentage points. But it comes down to individual towns and individual stores.

The weather, for instance, can play a huge role. A couple a pristine inches of snow on the ground and 35 degree weather might be perfect for shopping. 8 inches of snow, and zero degree temperatures, not so much. 8 inches of snow and a light rain, and sloppy slush, even worse. (You know, throw in 25 mile an hour winds....)

By the way, that last forecast is the actual Bend forecast. Heavy snow, low temperatures, followed by rain and slush and wind. Whooopeee.

Try to guess that two months in advance when you're doing your Christmas ordering, or two weeks in advance, or even two days in advance.

I'm just saying, it's all nonsense, and I don't know why they bother. They just needs something to write about, I guess. I suppose the retailers are hoping to start some sort of mindless stampede -- but at the same time, they are so manipulative and so obvious about it, that the herd is getting more skittish every year.

And I'll say again, as I say every year, it isn't about the sales, it's about the profits. If they give away the store by discounting heavily, they make higher sales; or if they hold the line on prices, they make lower sales, but better margins.

It's all so obscured now by manipulative pricing, that even Black Friday is beginning to lose all real meaning. Can you really trust that fighting the crowds will get you the best deal? I kind of doubt it. I suspect the same exact deals will be around a couple weeks later, and probably even better deals the week before Christmas, and even better deals the week after.

This year, the retailers are once again showing their short-term vision, by starting all the "Black" sales early -- which I think is going water down their effect. Hell, I've been immune to them for years -- because I think they're mostly B.S. -- and eventually the average consumer is going to catch on.

My advice?

Buy something of quality for your loved ones, look at the pricing --sure, do that -- but more importantly buy something nice, and that they really want. Not something that's cheap because it's cheap. Add your time and stress level into the cost of something you buy, and you might find it more fun to shop next Tuesday, take your time and enjoy yourself.

I guarantee you -- there will still be stuff to buy.

1 comment:

H. Bruce Miller said...

"8 inches of snow and a light rain, and sloppy slush, even worse. (You know, throw in 25 mile an hour winds...."

Sounds like it could be pretty much any day in Bend between Nov. 1 and June 15.