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Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

The Cyber Monday Myth

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Hey, I know how the internets work. The idea is that you communicate via your computer. If you want to buy something, you can usually get it shipped in 3 to 5 days and that’s the slow boat. So why would we be rushing to our computers today to buy stuff for Christmas, a holiday which is more than three weeks off? Because of a marketing campaign and the hunger of the mainstream media to write silly, fluff stories about the holiday shopping season, that’s why.

The concept was originated four years ago by Shop.org, an arm of the National Retail Federation, whose own survey of the trade association’s members found the busiest day for e-commerce was actually December 12th, two weeks later than “Cyber Monday.” Mastercard has also done some research in this area. They found the busiest e-commerce day is December 5th. They also found that only one in ten people said they would actually buy stuff on “Cyber Monday.”

But why would simple facts stop the media from promulgating the myth? Because they just can’t help themselves. I heard this line on News 1 in New York this morning. “It’s Cyber Monday! Shopping at real stores is “so last weekend.” Cute. Hey, Shop.org- mission accomplished!

By the way, one of the best sources on this Cyber Monday business and its true origins is Drew Curtis’ FARK.com who writes about this in a 2007 book called, “It’s Not News, It’s FARK: How Mass Media Tries to Pass off Crap as News.” The web site makes it its business to detail idiotic moments in the mainstream media. Today, for example you’ll find some hilarious entries documenting that MSNBC is reporting police in Rockville, Maryland have shot Jesus (in this, case, a dog named Jesus) and New Jersey.com is reporting a local church has found success using football to bring people closer to God because football is real and can change people’s lives.

Look, it’s good for the economy- it’s good for all of us if we all shop until we drop no matter where we do it. So please continue to think Cyber Monday really exists and before you go to bed tonight, Google some really neat stuff to buy, make sure to activate the “Autofill” function on your browser for the payment page on your retail web site and go crazy! I’m sure you’ll get a nice thank-you note from the National Retail Federation.

Black Friday- What the Frenzy Says About How We Hurt

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

It has become an annual ritual; people encamped at retail establishments in the dark hours of the early morning, waiting for stores to open the day after Thanksgiving so they can stampede the aisles looking for deals. Some find this tradition a disturbing example of gross materialism. I don’t see it that way. I view it as a symptom of just how horrendously the economy is affecting us.

Washington Post staff writers, Ylan Q. Mui, Dana A. Hedgpeth and Debbi Wilgoren present some pretty poignant reporting on what’s really going on out there. And hats off to them because getting the Black Friday reporting assignment is usually one of the silliest and predictable stories ever.

I was struck by the fact that a lot of folks are not just buying flat-screen TV’s; a lot of them are out looking for some cost relief on basic necessities. A lot of what drives people to the stores on this day is fear. One woman is quoted as saying, “You can’t take anything for granted. I’m not stupid enough to think I couldn’t lose my job tomorrow.”

And there’s this observation from Great Falls, Virginia resident, Teresa Lanz:

The economic downturn is squeezing salaries and forcing layoffs at the construction company where Lanz’s husband works. He will not be getting a raise or bonus this year, Lanz said, and she has already warned her two daughters that it is going to be a lean Christmas season. “Don’t even make a list,” Lanz said she told them. “Hope for the best, and if you get one thing, that’s great.”

These are anecdotes. Here’s the scope: the National Retail Federation says 134 million people are likely to have gone out shopping by this Sunday. In previous healthier years you might make the argument this is just the beginning of the Christmas buying frenzy.

In this holiday season, I’d make the case that the hunt for the deal is not just about purchasing gifts. They’re out there looking to take care of their families. The desperation shown by businesses that would lead them to offer 30 and 40% discounts is matched only by the anxiety people are feeling that the economic foundation is crumbling beneath their feet.

Does this sound like gross materialism to you? It sounds like survival mode to me.