One striking aspect about this holiday season is the notable effort that stores are making to separate people from their money as we face a near-depression, joblessness, and general angst from the spending public [and none from the powers that be on Public Spending]. Traipsing around London, Paris or Rome, one thing stands out even more than the multi-colored Christmas decorations and bright lights: the humongous SALE signs on many store windows, beckoning you to come in and take advantage of their PRE-Christmas sales?
Woolworths has become the English version of the dollar store, taking the entire enterprise entirely literally: they’ve reportedly offered their 850 stores for sale for 1 sterling. You start to wonder if the Grinch hasn’t sort of come in and stolen Christmas, so you better shop now before there’s no merchandise on the racks or, in the case of Woolworth’s, no store left to shop in.
Back in Italy, a place where socialism runs deep, sales come twice annually and you surely won’t find them before the holiday season. In fact, in Italy, store sales are dictated by national law and are end-of-season ones only. And don’t think you’ll get discounts on holiday items come January, either. The inventory is merely tucked away for another year. Talk about re-gifting.
I firmly believe stores and store owners should be able to put their items on sale whenever they want to, how they want to, and if they want to. And while I applaud efforts on the part of the sales police (the sales police?) actually going into stores to uncover fake markdowns on merchandise in an effort to protect shoppers, I still bristle at this Big Brother system of consumer protection.
Personally, this capitalist thinks shoppers should police through their pocketbooks and the government should let store owners govern their own merchandise, store hours and markdowns…To do otherwise is to truly put the Grinch in charge of Christmas.