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Buying Your Way through the Holidays

I think it is safe to say consumerism is at an all time high this year as a largely anticipated “Black Friday” has come and gone. I know this because I am one of many retail workers (worse, a manager) who consider herself a “victim” of the holiday season greed.

But ‘tis the season! It is the job after all. Or is it? Twelve years ago, when I first began in this industry, working minimum wage part-time at a local mall, I accepted the requirement of working the holiday season. Not the holiday.

But here we are, and here I am, as I have graduated from local mall to Orlando Premium Outlet, the highest volume outlet mall, where shoppers can now get their shopping done on Christmas and Thanksgiving Day.

John Gray, news reporter for Fox 23, couldn’t have said it any better, condemning shopping during the holiday: “It saddens me that the workers at these stores and malls will have to leave their families on Thanksgiving and run to a job to provide for those families.”

Now, I am well aware there are other professions that are very used to staying open to the public during Thanksgiving and Christmas Day—i.e. Disney, hotels, restaurants. However, hospitality requires service different from the retail service. Having a measly Sunglass Hut or Journeys shoe store open on a day like Christmas caters and condones the greed we as a society are enlarging, resulting in the ignorance to a day we, as a nation, can agree to take a day off and spend it with family and friends.

The pressure of the economic ramifications steer the decisions of corporate companies. Keeping open on days like these, they hope this will be an opportune time to cash in on missed profits or holes in their quarter, last year comparables, monthly, weekly sales, etc. The mall institutions themselves find the most profit as it caters to their international customers. They adopt this Field of Dreams epiphany that “If you build it, they will come,” convinced that foreigners from all over the globe would catch wind of this un-holy concept and travel afar to spend their currency at Nike, while Americans spend holidays at home.

The mundane shopping experience has now turned into the Tickle-Me-Elmo craze of ‘96 and customers now greet retail stores at all hours of the night on the day to give thanks (thanks to the midnight madness of the outlet mall) to take full advantage of any holiday sales, pummeling through crowds and parking like the Cabbage Patch Doll of ’88 is about to sell out.

The sick part about all this as a retail worker is we are used to it. This country runs on the conceptual metaphor that  “time is money” and take, take, take is the only way to view the holidays.

So, a piece of advice from someone on the front lines: we are not going to run out of stock so you can walk, not run; and if you are waiting until Christmas Day to buy your special someone a gift, it’s a sure bet Santa has already beaten you to it and you definitely have proven to be ignorant of the meaning of Christmas.


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