Saturday, November 28, 2009

A misguided kind of weekend

For merchants, this weekend is one of the most important weekends of the year. Though Christmas and other decorations have been hanging in stores for weeks, this weekend begins the holiday shopping season in earnest.

Based on the many reports I have read, sales that occur during the remaining weeks of the year will make or break many businesses. This is usually true during normal years, but when we consider how bad the economy has been, the stakes are even higher.

For consumers, this is likely good news. Businesses are practically begging us to buy their merchandise so there are a lot of good deals out there.

For example, it is a great time to be a book reader because there has been an on-line war of sorts going on between Amazon and Walmart for the last few weeks. Even new releases can be bought for substantial discounts.

Though on-line purchases can be convenient, we need to remember how important it is to make most of our purchases here locally. Sales tax revenue is a primary driver when it comes to funding government services. This is not just true here but all around the state as well.

Simply put, why go to Murfreesboro, Nashville, and Chattanooga and fill their sales tax needs when there are plenty of businesses to shop at here? Not only can good deals be found locally, but we will save money on gas and meals that we spend when we travel abroad.

So, we should think twice about where we will spend our holiday dollars.

Despite the importance of this weekend, I will not be spending one second shopping. I hope all our stores are blessed with big crowds, but I will not be part of them. This weekend is not for me.

It's just madness. I've seen and experienced too much over the years to have anything to do with this scene. I like good deals as much as anyone, but I do not have the will to sacrifice for them.

Many, many years ago I worked in the retail business, and trust me; this weekend is not a pretty sight. Lines are long. People are impatient, and they are not shy about making their feelings known.

Sometimes people are justified in complaining, but in many cases, they are not. Often times, people do not have realistic expectations about what to expect on this weekend. Long lines and inconvenience are a natural by-product of all the shopping that is going on, so people need to suck it up and understand that.

Adversity does a good job of revealing character. If this is the case, then many of us need a tutorial on how to handle it.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this weekend is that it can overshadow the very holiday meant to be observed: Thanksgiving.

I have always had a soft spot for Thanksgiving. However, its meaning has gotten watered down over the years. Once thought of as a day set aside to consider God's blessings on our country, it has become nothing more than another work day for many.

More and more businesses were open last Thursday just so they could squeeze out one more dollar. I know times are tough, but we should not lose perspective. There is a time to conduct business and another time to reflect on life.

I am just happy I did not have to work that day. Morale for those who did could not have been too high.

My guess is they will be looking for a new job when the economy improves.

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