I took the big car in for its MOT today. This meant I was in the Big City ie Edinburgh city centre so I thought I'd take the opportunity to look round the big shops and perhaps buy a few odds and ends for Christmas. I was a bit scandalised to realise that at least half the big stores were running some sort of sale already...M&S are having a 20% off day, Debenhams have just finished (I think) a 25% discount promo, Boots are running a big points offer etc. Yet with the exception of M&S, the shops were nearly deserted.
Well I know why of course...everyone is feeling the effects of the credit crunch and the shops are desperate for turnover. It's going to be one of the worst trading Christmas periods for decades, apparently. Yet I remember (when I were a lass) that no-one really expected to be doing any of their Christmas shopping until December and even then, it didn't seem to be one massive shopfest, buying everything from new televisions and 3-piece suites to all this yad. (Yad is what my BIL calls all these totally unnecessary gimcrack bits of novelty rubbish.) You bought your family a nice little box of something or a trinket each, hit the toy shops for kids pressies, bought one new outfit and that was it. Extra box of bikkies and some satsumas for guests, dug the decorations out the attic and ordered a turkey. Wrote the cards, bought some crackers, got the kids to do something creative with glitter, arranged to meet your friends in church, a few parties, at school or down the various sports clubs. it didn;t seem to cost a mint and it certainly didn't seem to require organising from November. And it didn't require all this shopping!!! Catalogues from everyone, shops full of Christmas tat from October and every paper and magazine telling you that the only way to have a perfect Christmas is to redecorate, buy new furniture, clothes, latest electronic whatevers, a fully coloured themed set of decorations to match the new wallpaper, a 12-course chef-inspired banquet for every day of the holiday and a vast Gift Set or Gift Experience or Perfect Gift for everyone including the person who clips your dog's toenails. because if you don't, you're not having a Perfect Christmas.
Not only do folk have to cut back and economise a bit, they're being made to feel that this is a terrible thing because if they do they won't have a Perfect Christmas and then their kids and friends and relatives will think they're Scrouge and have a horrible day and it will all be their Fault. Because it's 20% off, folks! So what if you can't afford the other 80% either. It's a bargain!!
So, what did I buy today, given that it was a big Shopping Opportunity with Discount? A diary for me, a diary for Princess (it had a fairy riding a unicorn on the front so it had to be bought) and some craft paper. Total cost £4.98. I had a look round the shops then came home, feeling hot and bothered and vaguely nauseated. I feel much the same way about the way Christmas is presented these days, come to think of it. Credit crunch or not, I just don't want to do this. Which is fine because I'm pretty good at avoiding commercial pressure to buy tat I don't need. But though I can see the arguement justifying all these sales and offers from the trading result point of view, I feel annoyed on behalf of the increasing number of folk that will feel they still have to keep spending even though they can't afford to.