Holiday Shopping Insanity & The Real Economy

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I long ago stopped with the Holiday shopping and spending madness that now starts in September. I can’t remember the last time I set foot in a store the day after Thanksgiving. There isn’t anything that my family needs that badly that I would subject myself to obsessed drivers vying for the parking spot closest to the doors if over crowded shopping centers. Or to the rudeness of shoppers, young and old, who will do just about anything from pepper spraying you to walking over your dead body to get to one of the 24 pairs of Nike Air Jordan’s on the shelf, or some other heavily discounted item, that they have waited countless hours for with a thousand other shoppers.

This isn’t just shoppers behaving badly, this is pure insanity driven by greed.

Despite the all this spending frenzy, the economic outlook for retailers isn’t all the booming:

Half off at the entire store at Ann Taylor. Sixty percent at Gap. Forty percent off almost everything at Abercrombie & Fitch.

Aggressive last-minute deals in the days before Christmas are good for procrastinators, but they could be an alarm bell for the retail industry.

While scattered markdowns are standard every year, discounts across entire stores – which analysts say are more widespread than last year – suggest merchants are stuck with too much merchandise.

“It’s really a game of chicken,” said David Bassuk, managing director and head of the retail practice at the consultant firm AlixPartners.

Many retailers entered the season “with pretty optimistic plans” that shoppers would rush into stores and pay full price, Mr. Bassuk said. But that did not pan out, and the final days before Christmas have retailers being “much more aggressive in terms of promotions being offered,” he said.

Shoppers are filling their holiday lists against the backdrop of an uncertain year, with stubbornly high unemployment, increased food prices, volatile gas prices and unpredictability for stocks and Europe’s debt crisis. The government on Thursday said that third-quarter economic growth had not been as brisk as it previously estimated, because of a drop in consumer spending on services like health care.

The American worker is taking home less, if he’s even lucky enough to still have a job, with the real unemployment rate is 11%. The big deal in the news today is the House Republicans caved to demands for a two month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits that will have to hashed out again when Congress comes back from their extended Winter vacation then end of January.  


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