The National Retail Federation forecasts a 3.7 percent increase in holiday sales this year with U.S. spending at more than $630 billion or approximately $800 per person. This is significantly higher than the 10 year average of 2.5 percent. Additionally, close to 136 million Americans planned to shop on Thanksgiving weekend. This year, I got an early start to my holiday shopping so that I could avoid the crowds. I figured I could accomplish more in a shorter period of time without the mass crowds of shoppers. Much to my dismay, the retail madness had already started. There was no parking, plus huge crowds and lines made the experience intolerable. Unfortunately, I was too late to avoid it all.
I grew up in a different era. Holidays were about spending quality time with family and life was simple. The holiday season started with watching the Thanksgiving Day parade on television and making a turkey figure using a paper bag stuffed with newspapers for the body, a toilet paper roll for the neck, and balled up newspapers for the head. Construction paper was cleverly utilized for feathers, wings, and other important turkey parts. After that, we had a nice family dinner. There was no television turned on to watch football and there was definitely No Shopping!
I am no opponent of capitalism and I certainly understand the retail industry’s desire to maximize the holiday season. I also understand the excitement of consumers to get great deals on gifts and household purchases for themselves and their families. It is important to realize there is a hidden cost to retail madness. Close, personal family contact and unity can become eroded and replaced by the desire to accumulate material objects. I am not sure if this is a cost that America can afford.
I personally support the retailers who refuse to open on Thanksgiving Day – so their employees can have time off with family and friends. Let’s think about the real meaning of the holidays…the spirit of love and kindness and generosity.