Dear American Consumer, Stay Home

Friday, November 26, 2010 , , 5 Comments

As many of you already know, today is Black Friday which means stampedes, possible death, fistfights over the last $99 50" LCD TV (sorry, there were only 2 in stock anyway) and waiting in line just to get your grubby little paws on a 75% off bedroom set. I hope, nay, pray that no loyal JDA readers spent their morning camped out in the Wal-Mart parking lot as we are better than that.

An interesting new twist on retail desperation, you may have noticed a few stores operating on Thanksgiving Day, perhaps in a sad attempt to tack on one more shopping day to round out the all important end of the year rampage we call the holidays. You know, that time of year when you are reminded of (bombarded with) consumerism as the ultimate expression of love and affection for those closest to you. If you don't give a bunch of crap, you're a bad friend. If you don't get a bunch of crap, no one loves you. The teevee says so, it must be true.

Check out the Guardian:

Retailers say they need every advantage they can get to get people shopping, whether or not that overturns tradition. Still, some retailers are resisting pressure to open on the holiday. "Somebody else is chasing a dollar? Let them do it," Kevin Mansell, chief executive of the discount chain Kohl's, told the Wall Street Journal. "I think our associates, and frankly our customers, deserve time with their families and that's what Thanksgiving is about."

Unfortunately for retail, the American consumer is tired. Complacent but tired.

The consumer accounts for about 70% of all economic output but has been badly beaten and broken over the last two years. Anyone who recalls the frigid fear of 2008's holiday season can confirm that many of us are still a tad reluctant to jump in and trash our credit on steals and deals, especially the nearly 10% of Americans that are still unemployed.

Oh how quickly we forget:

The number of consumers who feel little or no stress over their family's debt, which includes credit cards, mortgages and other loans, climbed to 59 percent, up considerably from the 49 percent who responded similarly a year ago, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. This was largely attributed to more Americans being disciplined in the way they use their credit cards.

However, 52 percent seldom or never worry about their financial liabilities, which is about the same proportion as last year, the report said. But some consumers face serious problems nonetheless. One in eight said they're concerned they may never get out of debt, and one in five said they fret about their outstanding balances most of or all the time. Further, 10 percent said they believed their debts would become a major problem in the next five years.

CNBC will be covering the State of the American Consumer starting at 6a, let's hope China gets that channel all the way over there.

JDA will be hiding in the Milwaukee 'burbs with Grandpa celebrating Buy Nothing Day by moving furniture, looking through old photo albums and stuffing ourselves with turkey sandwiches and pumpkin cheesecake pie. I'm proud to announce this is now my third annual BND and frankly a tradition for me going back much farther as I've never been one for stores and loading up on crap, especially if it means having to shove my way through a crowd to get to it. If you really want to revolt, try an entire week:

A few people start breaking their old patterns, embracing what they love (and in the process discovering what they hate), daydreaming, questioning, rebelling. What happens naturally then, according to the revolutionary past, is a groundswell of support for this new way of being, with more and more people empowered to perform new gestures unencumbered by history.

Think of it as an adventure, as therapy – a week of pieing and pranks, of talking back at your profs and speaking truth to power. Some of us will put up posters in our schools and neighborhoods and just break our daily routines for a week. Others will chant, spark mayhem in big box stores and provoke mass cognitive dissonance. Others still will engage in the most visceral kind of civil disobedience. And on November 26 from sunrise to sunset we will abstain en masse – not only from holiday shopping, but from all the temptations of our five-planet lifestyles.

Grandpa wasn't down for revolution so we will be quietly revolting from the burbs watching the sheep on teevee scramble for the last $100 teevee.

Rats. All of you. Show some restraint. Please.

Here's a blast from our pathetic consumerist past, anyone else remember this? For the record, baby JDA never got one of these, Mom didn't get down like that and I preferred LEGO to ugly ass dolls.

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you, JDA. Not buying anything today.

chairmanben said...


Dropping Ben Franklin's like confetti everyplace.

You know I'll win!

Anonymous said...

I tried to spend $29 on an office chair at my across-the-street Staples, but the last one was being hiked to the register at 930am. Missed that little deal and went home.

For you Star Trek fans Black Friday reminds me of Red Hour where the populace goes crazy for a period of time and then is put back into a trance of obedience to the human higher powers.

OldSouth said...

Celebrated the day by visiting with the Mennonites and touring a Shaker museum--two of the most productive and non-consumerist groups in history.

Take that, Best Buy! (OS is certain they are quaking in fear already...)

Mark said...

Hey JDA, does going to my local casino to watch all the football games count as "buying"? When all was said and done I ended up ahead about $180.00 and all the free beer I could drink.