Friday, November 23, 2018

‘Holiday shopping’ has arrived, yet the depressing part of retail yet to come

Many of us will indulge our desire to play “Santa Claus” in a few weeks, hoping we can find just the right present to give that special someone in our lives.
Holiday shoppers will see similar scenes along State Street. Photos by Gregory Tejeda
Even though the more-realistic happening will be a rush of items being returned to the store come Dec. 26 for exchange, as people wonder how much our relatives and friends don’t comprehend what we like.

WHY ELSE WOULD they buy that ugly sweater or stinky cologne (or perfume) for us? How could they possibly think we’d enjoy that!

It’s “Black” Friday, and I’ve lost count of all the advertising fliers I’ve received in recent weeks – informing me of all the special sales intended to get us off our turkey-stuffed behinds and out to their stores. Where we’re expected to spend our money in great abundance in anticipation of the Christmas holidays of just four weeks off.

But back to the Christmas event, which will motivate a lot of shopping – with retailers trying to make us think its our patriotic duty to turn out and endure the ridiculous crowds at stores anticipated for Friday.

This is, supposedly, the time of year when stores actually meet all the expenses of having operated this year – meaning that any income generated through sales from this point on will determine just HOW profitable 2018 turns out to be.
Will window decorations be replicated?

I KNOW THERE are a lot of people who took holiday-season jobs in retail, hoping to make some extra money. They’re counting on all those sales to help generate a slightly-larger paycheck than the minimum wage salary provides. They work on commission, after all.

In fact, I still remember a time when I did such a thing. It was the holiday season of 1987. I was a fresh college graduate who had a few writing gigs providing something of a freelance income. But a few extra bucks couldn’t hurt.

That was the holiday season I worked in the men’s department of a Carson, Pirie Scott store – one out in the suburbs that ceased to exist even before the whole chain came tumbling down earlier this year.

I wasn’t much of a salesman, usually because I didn’t have the heart to care if people actually bought anything. The same person who could easily get motivated to chase a political geek to demand answers just didn’t care what shirt style one preferred.
How many miss having city's holiday tree in Daley Plaza

BUT MY BIGGEST memories of that holiday season job were the final days when Christmas had passed.

I got to see just how much of the merchandise I had sold to people wound up being despised. I remember getting daily reports of exactly how much the goods that were returned were valued at.

For me, it used to be in negative figures. As in any sales I generated in the days following Christmas were negated by all the merchandise that got returned.

I even recall one woman who had asked my advice on buying a sweater for her brother made a point of coming back to the store to tell me personally how much he hated it! Merry Christmas to you to, lady!
The city's menorah will see its duty in coming weeks
CONSIDER IT PART of the reason why I don’t get enthused much anymore about this part of the holiday season, and why I consider it a part of my routine of maintaining my sanity to avoid any kind of shopping on this Friday.

I think the crowds will be ridiculous. The idea of sudden bargains financially will be greatly-overstated. If anything, I think I would not want to be amidst the chaos when trying to pick out presents for people.
Planning a trip? Airport decorations to see you off
If I actually like them, I’d want to try to get something they’d enjoy, which probably needs a more sane and rational process than people will endure on Friday.

Most definitely not something that’s going to make people feel compelled to go back to the store the final week of December so they can return the ugly charm bracelet or bottle of Aramis I would have picked out for them now.


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