Sunday, November 05, 2006

Too Damn Early

I took Alex to the mall nearby yesterday, as we had to get a couple of items and I figured it would just be easier to go to the mall, let him run a little in the wide open spaces, so that he could come home and fall asleep.

Well, we're walking through the mall, and he sees something and tried to just TAKE OFF running towards it. I stop him in time and pull him back from the rope he has already crossed, telling him he could look down from upstairs.

What was he so excited about?

He saw Santa Claus, set up and sitting in the middle of the mall, in front of Macy's, with kids coming up to see him.

I think it's getting JUST a little crazy when we are in full-force Christmas season when we've just had Halloween and haven't even reached Election Day or Veterans' Day, let alone Thanksgiving.

I think soon we'll start seeing Christmas advertising right after Labor Day. It's getting that obscene.


Big Daddy Jeff said...

I'll offer a slightly different take since I can tell this issue ticks you off. Firstly, I largely agree. It is too much too soon. And while it's not new, the envelope has certainly been pushed. More and more retailers are pushing Christmas earlier and earlier every season. Why?

Well, Francase, since I implied your asking, I'd suggest that perhaps this economy that you and others praise as being so strong isn't as robust as ya'll think. Yeah, I know, the Dow's at 12,000 and Cheney and Bush can't stop talking about it. That's great. But when you realize that the Dow was about 11,000 at the start of Bush's tenure, we haven't really gained that much in 6 years. Didn't we see the Dow go from like 2,000 in 1990 to 10,000 by the end of the decade? So in comparison this isn't much.

And then there's all the talk about the CPI and low inflation. True, that's what the numbers say. But the numbers don't tell it all. Health care (now a BIG part of our economy -- just ask the folks at Chevy and Ford) doesn't count towards those numbers. If you factor in the HUGE increases over the past 6 years in the cost of health care, suddenly it's not as rosy of a picture. Then do the same with prescription drugs, which the government now subsidizes. The argument gets even stronger.

Unemployment is low? True. But consider how many people in this new economy have dropped out of the job market, were never included in the figures to begin with, or are under-employed. With this shift to a service based economy and the outsourcing of our traditional jobs, I'd argue that a good part of the work force is under-employed. Another good chuck is forced to work 2 jobs merely to get by at the standard of living that used to exit based on 1 income. Again, all that isn't reflected in those figures.

Housing market? Been strong. But that began in the mid 1990s. Reflection of interest rates and very cyclical. All signs point towards a correction beginning now.

Then look at all the major industry consolidation over the past decade. Banking, utilities, communications, and travel come to mind. Sure - those things all help Wall St in the short term. But they're gonna hurt Main St in the long term. We haven't taken the hit there that's sure to come. I'll remind you of this in a few years when AT&T is once again the national phone company.

Next consider the high cost of fuel. You told us not that long ago it would continue to drop and drop based on all these new findings and supplies. It hasn't. Like I said earlier, a new floor was found during Bush's tenure and that floor is now being well reflected by the traders. I'm paying $2.20 here in Florida. That's about the national average. And it's also about what we were paying this time last year. That means during the Bush years, our fuel cost (adjusted for rises/falls due to seasonal conditions) rose about $1 per gallon. Some non-existant inflation.

Finally, getting back to the original point, retailers are not doing balls-to-the-wall business anymore. Sure, they're still doing ok. But the White House would have you believe things are a lot better than "ok." Wal-Mart's numbers were just down. If they're down, you know others are feeling it too. So these businesses must rely on Christmas shopping and the extended Christmas season to make the sales they need. And that's why you see Santa at the mall on November 5th. It's no accident.

Enough. Afterall, I'm not the business school guy around here. But I play one on TV and I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Francase said...

This will deserve a much longer reply to post later tonight as many of the assumptions in here are, well, misguided or wrong.

But since I don't have that long to write now, I'll write it later during football.