Black November to Stir the Anti-Christmas Pot

Black November to Stir the Anti-Christmas Pot

Black Friday is dead and everyone knows it. The fact that holiday shopping “door-buster” sales now kick off Thanksgiving morning is not exactly tradition — and retailers may never give it time to become such. The truth is that Black Friday is now really Black November — a full month or more of serious price promotions to kick start holiday shopping.

This is the real menace of retail people are talking about. This is the real Christmas creep. And it is about to become a part of the conversation in the so-called War on Christmas.

Late-night, early morning and even 24-hour shopping have become so common that many retailers believe they must stay open nearly all the time to keep up with their competitors, reports Richard Feinberg, Purdue professor of retail management.

With consumer pocketbooks stretched thin, shoppers will be looking for deals, according to Feinberg. That means most of the large, non-luxury retailers will be offering heavy promotions and constant sales. Retailers will rely on “flash” and limited-time sales because they create a sense of urgency and shoppers respond to them. Shoppers will also see more signs of holiday creep as “Black Friday” – the day after Thanksgiving that used to mark the first day of the Christmas shopping season – has transformed into “Black November.”

Black Friday backed further into Thanksgiving in 2013, as stores including Target, Younkers, Sears and J.C. Penney opened at 8 p.m. Thursday, and others even earlier. Walmart, open 24 hours, released Black Friday deals at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and sold some Black Friday merchandise as early as Nov. 1.

For stores that were open, shoppers followed, with 45 million people shopping online or in stores on Thanksgiving 2013, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s up from 35 million in 2012 and 29 million in 2011.

The sad truth despite these facts? Sales were DOWN for what is called “Black Friday” — by 2.9 percent.

The other sad truth is that many people protest now the presence of Christmas-themed shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Workers threaten to strike, campaigns to boycott retailers on Thanksgiving are launched and editorials run amok with anti-Christmas rhetoric.

It isn’t so much about Christmas, really. But Christmas gets blamed for creating the frenzy and urging retailers to “sell, sell, sell” in an effort to generate more revenue than they did the year before.

Media Starts War on Christmas in Germany

Media Starts War on Christmas in Germany

There’s a movement against Christmas afoot — in Germany. It is being waged mostly by the media.

About 1000 people responded to an online survey in Germany last month that concluded German citizens were fed up with early sales of Christmas items and wanted a law imposed restricting sales of Christmas goods no sooner than November 30th of each year.

How many people said this? Some media outlets say “most”. The survey results actually say about a third.

Of course, Germany is home to traditional Chriskindelsmariks, or Christmas markets. How could a country central to the rise of Christmas Markets in Europe come to this point?

The truth is, they haven’t. Christmas is as popular as ever in Germany. The media there and all over Europe, however, is active in speaking out against Christmas in any way possible.

Many traditional symbols and icons of the season worldwide originated in Germany and Christmas is a beloved season of the year. Could Germans really be put off by seeing Christmas in stores three months before Christmas?

Not really.

The backdrop of this survey doesn’t take into account current economic conditions. Supermarkets and large box retailers world wide are mostly guilty of the early Christmas marketing and nothing they are doing this year is new. In fact, other recent media reports suggest that supermarkets worldwide are struggling and retailers are looking for any edge they can find. The early sales of Christmas isn’t new and may, in fact, be more pronounced this year.

In other words, Christmas in stores in Germany, like in stores in America, has been a long standing tradition. If people were really against it, they would not be buying it.

So why then these surveys?

Because the media continues to hammer anti-Christian and anti-religious messaging in any way that they can. Political correctness has run rampant in Germany in recent years as evidenced by the outright banning of Christmas in parts of Berlin last year. Observers fully expect more of the same this holiday season.

Anti-Christmas Protests to Launch Thanksgiving Morning

Anti-Christmas Protests to Launch Thanksgiving Morning

As news begins to trickle in of retailers planning to open in the wee hours of Thanksgiving Day we’re hearing that anti-Christmas protesters are planning to be there, too. It begs the question: Will Thanksgiving Day become the ultimate battleground in the War on Christmas?

The media is already in a tizzy each holiday season over “Christmas creep” — the selling of anything Christmas before Thanksgiving.

But when major retailers shifted Black Friday specials before and after Thanksgiving dinner last year the chorus of anti-Christmas voices blossomed in defense of retail workers forced from their families on Thanksgiving.

Unions organized and in parts of the country Black Friday morning protesters marching against low wages and working on holidays made headlines coast to coast.

Social media campaigns and online petitions were launched to seek out supporters who would not shop those Thanksgiving sales events.

But is all this upset of the shopping frenzy-before-the-feast really about Christmas?

We concur with those critical of retailers capitalizing on Thanksgiving Day. We’re against it. But we don’t blame Christmas. We blame retailers.

Regardless, the anti-Christmas forces of the FFRF and other atheist-driven organizations smell opportunity and will use the abuse of Thanksgiving to preach their anti-Christmas gospel.

DefendChristmas.com has been told that protests and banners this year will bear criticism of Christmas as well as retailers. In their view, none of this madness would be happening if not for Christmas. They will claim the sanctity of home, family and tradition are actually being spoiled by…Christmas.

It is a pretty compelling argument. We wonder where it will lead. And we wonder if it just might be enough to begin to turn the tide against culturally popular secular Christmas traditions such as Christmas shopping.

We can’t help but think a more frugal Christmas would be a good thing for everybody. We can’t help but agree the “rush to buy” is an absurd byproduct of an otherwise cherished season. By embracing an anti-Christmas strategy on Thanksgiving the FFRF just might swell their ranks overall.

Retailers War on Christmas

Retailers War on Christmas

Time for a discussion about a real battleground on Christmas: the store.

It does not matter where that store is — online or offline, it is the same. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking retailers of today or retailers a century ago. Past or present, the only real war that has been waged relative to Christmas has been the one for the dollars.

The cry this year stems from retailers who have forgotten that Black Friday falls on a Friday or that a day-after-Thanksgiving sale can’t be called that if it takes place on Thanksgiving.

When some protest evolved last year, culminating with a threatened strike that fizzled at Walmart, retailers took the cue that there’s really nothing about Thanksgiving as a holiday that is sacred: except that it is a great time to hold a sale, all in the name of Christmas.

Kmart used to own the Thanksgiving day shopping business. Opening early in the morning, closing for afternoon “Turkey time” and re-opening during the evening hours had been a Kmart tradition for several years. Now they have to compete with Walmart, Target, JCPenney and even Macy’s, who are approaching the 100 year anniversary of hosting the annual Thanksgiving Day parade, and all of which now tout Thanksgiving day and evening as the start of their Black Friday sales.

It used to be folks would line up for 4am sales at these stores. If they wait until then this year, they will miss it.

Retailers say two things about these trends: first, this is what the customer wants. Indeed, the protests this year are smaller and we’re betting the media will cover the elbow-throwing of Thanksgiving night better than they have of Black Friday morning over the years.

But retailers also claim they have no choice but to do this because the computer, tablet and smart phone never stop selling. The “e-Tailers” of the world (Amazon, Apple, etc) can sell on Thanksgiving without controversy and have done so now for years. Old fashioned stores say they have to do this to compete.

But it goes oh so deeper than that.

Winding its way through Congress right now is a bill called the Marketplace Fairness Act.

We have to be careful with how they name these new laws. Does anyone ever call Obamacare by the “Affordable” Care Act anymore? It’s the same thing with the innocent sounding Marketplace Fairness Act — a wolf in sheep’s clothing if there ever was one.

The bill would require any business, large or small, selling product at retail online to collect taxes for all 50 states.

Think about that for a minute. You go to Amazon on Thanksgiving Day to get one of their big deals and depending upon where you say you live — or, rather, where your credit card reveals where you live — you will pay more for an item than it is listed.

Big deal, right? Sales taxes are a part of life, correct?

Not if you’re living in Newport Beach where you’ll pay about 10 percent more for that great deal than say, anyone in Delaware — which doesn’t have sales tax at all.

What are sales taxes used for? Well, any city or state will tell you that sales taxes go to support the infrastructure where that business is located.

This, says retail groups, is fair.

What they don’t say is that an Internet based retailer working from the middle of nowhere in low-cost Nevada will have to hire expensive attorneys and accountants to defend itself from auditors from…oh, all fifty states. Those doing business online will have to report sales from each zip code and prove to auditors they are being truthful about the taxes they collect. What is that going to cost and who is going to pay for it?

And what about those big boys — such as Walmart, Kmart, Target, JCPenney, Sears, etc — who have both online and offline operations? Won’t they, in fact, just get stronger?

Yes, there is a real battle going on here and at the very center of it is the tiny little holiday they claim makes all this necessary.

And until consumers learn the simple lessons of Dr. Seuss the madness only deepens.

The Gap Caves, Will Say Merry Christmas

The Gap Caves, Will Say Merry Christmas

For years the battle has raged: the American Family Association targeted The Gap and associated companies and brands for not using the words “Merry Christmas” in its advertising and signage. After eight years the battle is over: The Gap concedes and will begin using the dreaded C-word again:

As we near the holiday season I want to update you on how Gap, Inc.’s family of brands will celebrate the Christmas season. As a global retailer, we embrace the diversity of our customers and respect a variety of traditions and faith during the holidays, including Christmas.

Starting today, every Gap Outlet window will have signs that say “Merry Christmas” along with Christmas trees and wreaths throughout their stores.

So says Bill Chandler, a Vice-President-in-Charge-of-This-Kind-of-Stuff for The Gap, in an open letter to the AFA that NO major media has bothered to cover.

Chandler said in the letter that a “special Christmas-themed event” was being planned for all of its Old Navy stores in mid-December, adding that the stores’ websites will also include “Christmas-related products.”

American Family Association President Tim Wildmon said in an email to supporters that eight years ago, nearly 80 percent of retailers abandoned Christmas for a non-offensive, generic holiday approach. The group attributes some retailers’ turnaround to the grassroots pressure the assocation’s supports have put on companies waging a “war on Christmas.”

“AFA began working with GAP Inc. about five years ago when it adamantly refused to use the term ‘Christmas’ in any of its seasonal advertising,” Wildmon said in the email. “For that reason, AFA asked you to boycott Gap stores during the Christmas shopping season last year. Your efforts have paid off.”

We now return you to your regularly scheduled war on Christmas featuring schools and court houses.