Saturday, November 29, 2008

Leaving sales on the table

Two girls shot in a California Toys R Us; a temporary employee, likely someone who needed the extra money in this economy, trampled to death in a Wal-Mart. All this after a raucous crowd ripped the doors off of the hinges. I was saddened and shocked to read this news late last night, particularly because I spent last Black Friday working in a retail store. Is that $130 Blu-Ray player worth violence? Does anyone on my list need a Nintendo DS so badly that I should literally risk life and limb to get it at as deep a discount as possible?

We could say that people in general need to calm down when it comes to holiday shopping. Perhaps suggesting that they act like humans instead of wild animals on the hunt. Then I took a stroll through the Wednesday and Thanksgiving papers that were filled with circulars. I reconsidered all of the television and internet advertising I've seen in the past few weeks, compounded by the many newspaper articles that have trumpeted Black Friday sales as the only time of year when you can get a real deal. Is it any wonder that frenzy ensues?

I understand that retailers are hurting and need the business. I understand that our economy needs a boost from consumer spending this holiday season. The only thing that is going to prevent this kind of violence happening year after year on the day after Thanksgiving is pull-back by retailers. This Black Friday is a man-made holiday, and it needs a man-made solution. Drive more sales to on-line rather than in-store. Learn how to spread yours sales across a season rather than across the hours of 5am - 11am on one day. And for heaven's sake order enough inventory to fulfill at least a majority of the demand. Work with the suppliers beforehand, long beforehand, and do a proper forecasting model. This scarcity as strategy model is obscene, and it's literally killing people.

This season I'll be staying away from stores for the majority of the holiday season, as much as possible. I might pop in at some lull periods just to soak up some ambiance. I'll be doing my spending right here in front of my laptop. In my efforts to cultivate peace on Earth this holiday, it seems that our retailers are not the place to be.

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