Reward clerks who have to listen to holiday music by buying locally

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

The sound of holiday music caught my attention as I went inside the mall. The decorations are being put up in the hallways.

But isn’t it a little early? Halloween was only a few days ago.

The stores are ready for Christmas. I went to a hardware store the other day, and they had a great collection of artificial Christmas trees on display. I like the holiday season as much as the other guy, but aren’t we jump-starting it a bit this year?

We’d be starting earlier were it not for Halloween, which all by itself also is a good money maker for retailers. I heard that on the radio while driving one morning. They ran a report on why retailers are starting Christmas earlier than usual.

The holidays carry a big burden when it comes to retail sales. That’s when stores make 25-30 percent of their gross. It’s make-it, or break-it time. Black Friday is when retailers begin to make a profit for the year.

So, the way we set up this consumption-based economy, the Christmas season, or holiday season, is the most important part of the year when it comes to retail sales. Without it, retailers would go broke.

There is one less week to sell during the holiday season, which starts on Thanksgiving Friday, because Thanksgiving is a week later this year. So, merchants have decided to start the holiday theme earlier to try to make up some of the earnings for that lost week.

Here is something they don’t want to hear. The majority of the holiday sales this year will be done online. This is something that merchants did not have to worry about a decade ago. Now the online giants with the lower overhead are putting more pressure on local retailers than ever.

So, here is how we can all help out. Let’s browse the Internet to see what we’d like to buy, and after deciding, let’s go to the local store and buy them there.

When you do that, the sales tax you pay stays in the city where you shop. Buy as much as you can in the city where you live, so that the sales tax you are charged can be used by your city.

Even if you purchase from a national box retailer, as long as it’s located in your city, the sales tax stays local. It’s also easier to return an item locally.

However, if the store is owned locally, then not only the sales tax will help your city, but the retailer is going to turn over the dollars you spend many times in your community.

And, just to get your business, retailers are willing to endure endless hours of holiday music blaring through the speakers. How many times can you listen to that Rudolph song or “Jingle Bell Rock,” anyway, without going batty?

I personally avoid Black Friday like the plague, but many people love it. It’s like a game or a sport to them. I prefer to sleep in and have a nice quiet Friday. Then I’ll buy everything on my list whenever it’s most convenient.

Many stores are now promoting Black Friday deals so that you don’t have to do battle early Friday morning.

Actually, the battle continues because it’s not just about the stuff. To many, it’s a quest. The winners return to their homes dead-tired with the grand prize: Some electronic device discounted to next to nothing.

The only way I’d fight the crowds is if the stores pays me to buy the stuff.

Since merchants are getting nervous about the bottom line this year, we’ll get to enjoy Black Friday on ... Thursday. Well, some of us, anyway. I’ll still be eating turkey.

“Feliz Navidad” is now playing. This one is actually not so bad. I can listen to this for like three minutes.

Good, it’s over. Oh, no. It’s the endless loop of holiday music.

I’m running.