Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Letter to Retailers

During this time of Holiday gift-giving, socializing, children's activities, and family obligations, there is plenty of stress and distractions to go around.  I don't know if the landscape of retail sales is changing, or I'm older and therefore more aware, or both, but this year I have noticed a disturbing trend that has been building over the last five years.

1.  We consumers are not fooled by your "Friends and Family Discount" proclamations.   I could not pick any of you out of a lineup, so do not presume to call me a friend and then offer me a paltry 25% off.  My true friends and family get wholesale prices, so spare me the patronizing emails.

2.  We consumers are not fooled by idiotic "Choose Your Discount" sale prices.  $10 off your $100 order, $20 off your $200 order is still 10%.  $40 off a $400 order doesn't make me feel any more special, and 10% off during the holidays is barely worth my time to open the email.

3.  "Last Chance to Save!!" would mean a lot more if I wasn't getting the same email, slightly changed, every week for the last two months.

The week after Thanksgiving, my unread emails waiting in my inbox every morning was double what it normally was.  It took two weeks to taper back.  I don't even read them anymore, just tick off the boxes next to the headers of the worst offending senders, and delete them unopened.  I finished my holiday shopping in October, mainly because anything that's a "great deal" during the shopping season will not be in stock to ship in time for Christmas.  I am not lured to your website by these great deals, therefore I do not impulsively buy other items to round out my list.

Stop relying on one month a year to make your profits.  If you can barely survive the other 48 weeks a year, then maybe you need to look at scaling back or diversifying.  All retail entities need to stop being greedy, stop trying to take over the market share.  What ever happened to being content with what you have?  Whether you're a consumer, or a retailer, stop trying to expand and grow quite so much.  In retailers it leads to spreading your resources too thin and going into debt during the year, prompting sleazy, desperate tactics during the holidays.  In consumers, it leads to a hollow feeling of dissatisfaction once the holidays are over, an attitude of ravenous consumerism, and a house full of junk you barely use.

And any good you do during the rest of the year to reduce your carbon footprint is done away with in shipping pollution, wrapping paper, and power usage.

Be content with less.

I am pledging to not spend any unnecessary money until January 1st.  Pay the bills, buy food and fuel to get to work, but no gadgets, gizmos, movies, etc.  Handmake gifts out of things you already own, if you need any last-minute additional items.  Giving your hostess a loaf of Cranberry bread is just as welcome and meaningful as a bottle of wine in wrapping paper.  A knitted scarf for your aunt is just as thoughtful as a CD, if not more so.  If the recipients do not seem to appreciate these gifts, that is the fault of the receiver, not the giver.

I could keep going on about how I think advertising has ruined this country, brainwashing our citizens into feeling worthless unless they buy certain products, or that they're not really being good parents unless they give their kids a million things, or that they will suddenly be happy and fulfilled if they only buy THIS item.  And I will look like a hypocrite because I have advertising on my web page, not that I find web advertising all that effective, but it's the principle.  I will stop now, but my main message to retailers this holiday season is this:  I am on to you.  And I refuse to be manipulated anymore.

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