1. It’s Thursday, November 12, 2015.
2. It’s two weeks until Thanksgiving.
3. It’s three weeks until Black Friday, the day whose meaning keeps changing.
For the longest time, it was referred to as the kickoff to the holiday season. (Yes, HOLIDAY, you putzes obsessed with “wars” on Christmas.) Stores would open early on Friday morning, say 7 a.m.
Then it became 6 a.m. Then 4 a.m. Then midnight.
Now it’s completely encroaching on Thanksgiving. Walmart and Target plan to open at 6 p.m. that night. Other chain stores follow an hour or so later. And some stores won’t close for the holiday at all.
Does it matter? I wonder.
Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren warned yesterday that there’s too much stuff in his company’s stores. As a result, there will be lots of markdowns. That’s great news if you’re a shopper, not so great news if you’re a shareholder of Macy’s — or any of those other stores that share malls with Macy’s and will have to cut prices themselves to compete.
Here’s the thing: I’m not sure people want to go out to buy stuff. They have a lot of things already. And they don’t want to brave crazy crowds — either during normal sleeping hours or the time when families normally eat Thanksgiving dinner — to buy fodder for a 2017 garage sale.
People have instantaneous ways of satisfying their few must-haves. It’s called Amazon, or one of its online brethren. Why drive to the mall, hassle over parking, try to find a sales clerk and probably get sick from all the germs being spread in a crowded area? The UPS guy will deliver the same thing to you in your pajamas.
It’s not the economy. People are working, for the most part, and they’re willing to spend money. One stroll through the special World Series shop at Citi Field before Game Five is proof that there are folks willing to spend crazy money for the right thing, especially when it’s Mets fans looking for a Wright thing.
It’s just that most things you can buy in a store are not worth the hassle. I don’t know how Macy’s and other merchants solve this problem.
But it’s not going to be by a 40% markdown on acrylic scarfs at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.