Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas... In July

     One of the most common anecdotal stories you hear in the retail world is the slow creep into November that Christmas has made.  If you’ve ever seen all the commercials that air for Christmas in the first week of November, you understand what I mean by this.  It seems like hyperbole to suggest that at some point, retail giants will force us to start watching Christmas commercials in January, but at the rate things are going, we may be at that point in another 10 to 12 years.  This year seems to be one of the worst ones out there for retail life – and I’ve seen several.
     For the most part, I’m spared some of the early Christmas displays for awhile but why do places like Macy’s feel the need to put up their Christmas trees no later than September?  It is just plain sickening.  My job usually waits until at least November to roll out holiday-themed gift cards but this year was the first time they brought them out before Halloween. Halloween!  As in October 31st!  It should’ve been at that point that I realized this year wasn’t going to be like the others.  I love Christmas and all, but let’s leave Christmas for December.
     Then came word that there were a few retailers who were going to open on midnight on Thanksgiving.  One or two others were going to be opening up even before that.  For some, this would be the first time they’d have to work on Thanksgiving at their jobs.  For those of you outside of the U.S., this caused quite a commotion among employees and shoppers.
     Shoppers were upset because they’d have to get up even earlier or leave Thanksgiving earlier to get the good “doorbuster” deals.  Let me start out by saying that if you’re standing in line for a $5 coffeemaker, it’s probably a shitty coffeemaker and not worth missing time with your family.  If your family members are upset because they can’t receive every single gift on their list or they don’t get a certain amount of gifts, just tell them to be one of the millions of homeless people who don’t get a proper Christmas at all.  That’ll shut their ungrateful mouths up, huh?  And if you’re complaining about getting up even earlier to get the deals, well, you’re already up at 12-1am to get to the stores and in line anyway, is getting there earlier going to kill you?  In a few articles, some shoppers that were interviewed said they felt bad for the employees that would have to miss their holiday meals.  I bet you that they were still waiting at midnight to be let in for their special sales despite their sympathy.
     Some employers said they felt really bad about changing the hours and making their employees work these crappy hours but that the ‘demand’ for earlier hours was there and that to remain competitive with others, they had no choice but to open earlier.  Like the old saying goes, “If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you?”  I bet these CEOs are really bummed their employees will have to cut into their family time but somehow they’ll be able to overcome that grief – perhaps on their yacht or their vacation home in the Bahamas.  Any way you cut it, it is just simply greed.  I’m all for making a profit and I hope people spend tons of money at my job because that means I keep making money but there has to be a line drawn somewhere.
     In retail, most of us only get 3 holidays off:  Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  It’s something in exchange for the crappy wages and the generally crappy conditions we have to put up with.  With the insanity of holiday shopping and the demands of working at stores, we already get family time cut into as it is.  What if someone has more than 1 family they celebrate a holiday with and they spread their time out over 2 days?  They’re already missing that 2nd family celebration and now you’re asking them to miss the other?
     I’d like to experience a Christmas season overseas just to see how they act.  Do they trample over each other to get a pair of $5 jeans before Christmas?  Is blind, hungry consumerism as rampant overseas as it is here?  Something tells me it’s not.  I wonder why that is?
     Again, I’m all for making a profit, and I knew what I was getting into as far as working long holiday hours, but there has to be a line drawn.  I don’t think as retail workers some common courtesy is too much to ask for.  You should have major holidays off.  You should be able to request a day off of work during the holiday months if you need to spend it with family.  You shouldn’t be made to feel like a criminal if you come down with the flu and have to call off of work.  These things happen quite often at my job and others that I’ve heard about.
     I figured with all the Occupy Wall Street and the ninety-nine-percenters out there that the midnight open that some companies did would create a bigger backlash but I was sorely disappointed.  From the looks of it, idiots, instead of staying inside and just going on Amazon like sane people, ended up showing up at midnight.  It’s called the internet, people!  Use it for more than porn, okay?  It’s not just Wall Street and the government that needs to be taught a lesson about capitalism run amok.  It’s also the retail giants that treat their workers only slightly better than slave labor and their customers like cattle that can be manipulated into buying anything as long as they call it a “holiday sale”.
     I’ll have more to say on another post about holidays but this rant is long enough.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to hurry out the door – there’s a great sale going on at JCPenny!  If I buy 4 sweaters, I get 5% off the fifth one! Sweet!
More soon from the frontlines...