Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Keep calm and carry on despite the stink of retail desperation

I may have finished yesterday's entry with "Crazy Eddie the Motie says, "Welcome to 'Science Fiction Times.'  Do we ever have a deal for you!", but I'm not done with the subject. Since I fully believe in reusing and recycling, including my writing, I'm turning the leftovers into another meal.  Bon Appetit!

Michigan State University professor Patricia Huddleston commented on a trend I'd seen before.
One continuing trend that Huddleston noted this year is that the holiday season once again arrived earlier than last. For example, Target aired its first holiday commercials two weeks before Halloween.

“Many stores installed their holiday departments well before Halloween costumes were marked down,” Huddleston said. “This is evidence of the cutthroat competition for the $586 billion in holiday sales.”
This has been a continuing trend over the decades.  First, Christmas decorations and promotions didn't start until the day after Thanksgiving, which is why the Macy's Parade and its equivalents ended with Santa Claus.  Next, they moved up until the day after Halloween.  Now, the holiday shopping season starts even earlier than that, as I mentioned in my LiveJournal two years ago.
In the Green Oaks mall, there is a HomeGoods store, which was one of our favorite places to shop when we were living in the area--lots of bargains on things we enjoy having in our house. We returned to see if there any good buys. When we entered, one thing struck me immediately--how many items were already on sale for Halloween.

It's too soon--summer isn't even over yet! Labor Day is in a week! The kids aren't even back in school, so back to school sales aren't even over.

That wasn't all. Thanksgiving items were already out, too. Combined, the Halloween and Thanksgiving items covered 15-20% of the display space. I paced off the width and length of the store with the bulk of the items, estimated the dimensions of the store, computed the areas of both, and divided. I also managed to do this without anyone, including my wife, figuring out what I was doing. Yes, I'm a geek.

When I mentioned the Halloween items to the clerk, she said that she had seen stores with Christmas merchandise out already. Oh, brother. Looks like the retailers already think that Christmas will be the only thing that saves them this year, and it's only August.
As I wrote back then, I detected "the stink of retail desperation."  That wasn't the only thing that bothered me about my experience.
The holiday goods on sale earlier than I'd ever seen them before weren't the most unnerving things I saw. This was.

Reassuring slogan, right? Not if you know its origin.
Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of World War II, to raise the morale of the British public in the case of invasion. It was little known and never used. The poster was rediscovered in 2000 and has been re-issued by a number of private sector companies, and used as the decorative theme for a range of other products.
Knowing that history unsettled me. That I'd never seen the slogan on a physical object before just reinforced my unease. That a Google Image search for "keep calm and carry on" found so many items for sale makes me wonder what kind of times would make such a statement fashionable. Interesting ones, no doubt.

Keep calm and carry on.
Two years later, I still think this is good advice.

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