Before you can even digest that last slice of pumpkin pie after Thursday's Thanksgiving feast, some of the nation's biggest retailers will be opening their doors for "Black Friday" holiday sales when the clock strikes midnight on November 25.
Macy's and Target were the first to announce "Black Midnight." Best Buy felt the pressure, according to CEO Brian Dunn in the Washington Post. "I feel terrible," Dunn told attendees at a conference in San Francisco. "It will change some Thanksgiving plans for our employees. It certainly changes mine."
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads? My head can't help but think of the old Mervyn's ads showing an eager shopper standing outside the store chanting, "Open, open, open." Those ads disturbed me then (and clearly didn't help Mervyn's that later went out of business) ... and this year's even earlier move to begin the madness takes the cake as a full frontal assault by corporate America eager to boost profits by racking up a few more hours of sales. Some stores have begun "leaking" their Black Friday sales advertisements online.
According to the National Retail Federation, holiday retail sales for 2011 are expected to increase 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion. Supply and demand?
It all comes down to greed. As "Occupy" movements spread across the country, we need to ask ourselves just who are the greedy? Spending may help stimulate the economy but ordinary Americans perpetuate corporate greed when they turn the season of giving into an excuse to lavishly spend on unnecessary goods. Even if Black Friday deals can save consumers money, neither our economy nor the average American can afford to be so extravagant.
Isn't that how we got into this mess in the first place? Mortgage lenders tempted us with loans we couldn't afford. Taking the bait resulted in a record number of home foreclosures.
Parents, especially, must take responsibility for creating a generation of new consumers who spend beyond their means. We love our children by buying them every toy on their Christmas list. We buy them the latest electronic gadget or spend a fortune on their senior proms. How often do you see young 20-somethings in expensive cars, dining in fancy restaurants, and wonder how can they afford that? Credit cards? One could blame the credit card companies for enticing young cardholders whose income can't bear the weight but as with so many things, it all begins at home.
Teach simplicity and humility. Learn by doing. Learn to say NO.
I applaud Nordstrom for continuing its tradition of being closed on Thanksgiving Day and keeping holiday decorations out of its stores until after turkey day. Nordstrom has signs like this on its doors: "We won't be decking our halls until Friday ... Why? Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving." At the same time, Nordstrom shoppers don't go there to save money on Black Friday or any other day of the year.
This year the morning news crews will also have to rise earlier to catch the first shoppers hitting the stores. They won't even have time to pack a turkey sandwich for a budget brown bag lunch.
So why not bag Black Friday? Stay home and off the computer where online shopping is tempting. Take the day to sleep in, decorate the tree, and put your money where it should be ... safe in your wallet.
Follow Pamela Tom on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pamelajtom