I can’t help but remember the good old days, when vendors actually believed in the value of their merchandise and went through the exercise of telling us when we had permission to mark their items on sale – which used to be the day AFTER Christmas. Slowly, over time, it kept moving. It went from the day after Christmas to the 21st of December (to help merchants move extra inventory), and then they moved it to the 15th, then the 9th, then the 1st, and then the day after Thanksgiving. Now the vendors aren’t talking, and no one is listening anyway. Retail does what it wants in an effort to compete with each other, and make all of you compete.
Just last week I caught a news story of two women were already camped out in front of a Best Buy store in California for the store’s Black Friday sale. These two ladies have committed themselves to sitting in front of a store, on camp chairs, for over three weeks – to save money at Best Buy.
Should we laugh or should we cry?
To save everyone the trouble of sorting through the hot deals of the season, let’s just say that from now on, Halloween is the new sale date. Hell, why not back it up to Labor Day? At least the weather would be better for camping outside while you’re waiting for the doors to open.
I find it a little unsettling that merchants can no longer seem to sell merchandise unless it’s on sale. It’s the only tool they have left in the toolshed and they’ve trained Americans to think they should only buy something if it’s discounted. How do you explain “Friends and Family,” if everyone gets the coupon? What exactly is a “Private Sale?” Because the last I checked, if it’s loading in your Facebook feed, it’s not so very private – is it? All of these “sales” really just translate to 6 consecutive weeks of discounted merchandise for the masses.
Which begs the question, Is it even discounted? It’s no secret that some pretty big retailers have been caught before marking things “up” to mark them “down.” Do they really think they are fooling anyone? Do you really think they would take a loss for you? Apparently, the consumer really does. And the vendors keep saying…declaring…insisting, that they do all of this because it’s what “SHE” wants. But isn’t that a bit insulting that SHE won’t buy anything unless it’s on sale? Do customers really want stores to open earlier and earlier every year in an effort to create chaos in the lives of employees and shoppers everywhere?
So I have to ask, why is Saks opening a new 250,000 square foot store in New York City? And why are they moving next door to Century 21 when they already ARE Century 21? Do they really need more space to sell more merchandise at a discount? The last time I checked, when demand goes down, you don’t add more supply. Eventually, like the mortgage industry, which never should have failed (right?), this system will implode too. Retail giants continue to open more stores, but they will remain empty and merchandise will continue to be sold at marked down prices online.
Too much supply, not enough demand? How will they save the industry?
Create a Holiday!
Alibaba.com, a Chinese e-commerce company, broke all records this year with over 9 BILLION in sales for Singles Day. Yes, Singles Day. A “holiday,” created in 1993 to celebrate the young, SINGLE, fashionable set. Brands couldn’t even participate unless their merchandise was marked at least 50% off. And just today I read an article on PopSugar Fashion about the Black Friday “holiday” and the top 21 sales to keep an eye on. I’m sorry, but Black Friday isn’t a holiday.
And while they’re building up New York City, the rest of the country is pulling away from expansion. Retail real estate is projected to contract 37% year after year because malls and other brick and mortar retail stops can’t compete with their own, and others, online sales. Who needs a store if you have 2 dimensional pictures to click on? Consumers are not expected to expect anymore, and most retailers have gotten complacent and have stopped educating their customers about what it means to appreciate something they can actually experience.
By now you may be asking yourself, Debi, why do you care?
I care because retail has always been a huge part of my life, and my observations of the industry help me make better choices for Louis and all who have loyally patronized our store throughout the years. I care because it’s my job to stay connected with the newer shoppers who, despite having a laptop, still appreciate and understand the value of what we do. You can’t find what I have on sale. I keep it exclusive so we can all be reassured that you are buying something of quality, and something more special than the 8 million of something else you can buy online.
I remember, during the last great recession in the late 80’s / early 90’s when my father, Murray Pearlstein, said to me, “Debi, I lived through the great depression, and while things were very tight, there was always somebody who still appreciated something special.”
So people, take a breath. There truly is plenty of time to shop between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
No matter what holiday you observe, let the spirit linger.