’Tis the season to spend
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Nov 24, 2012 | 1915 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A family makes camp in a parking lot next to Best Buy in Victorville, Calif., as they wait for Black Friday. Photo: The Victor Valley Daily Press, David Pardo/Associated Press
A family makes camp in a parking lot next to Best Buy in Victorville, Calif., as they wait for Black Friday. Photo: The Victor Valley Daily Press, David Pardo/Associated Press
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Thanksgiving has passed and the Christmas shopping season has arrived. Despite lingering rates of high unemployment and concerns of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” Americans of various means are heading to the stores.

Experts tell us a staggering amount of money will be spent between now and Dec. 25.

This week, the National Retail Federation projected a 4.1 percent increase in overall sales in November and December — which equates to $586.1 billion in sales, according to the Associated Press. Likewise, the Forrester Research group projects online sales this holiday season to increase 15 percent from a year ago and reach $68.4 billion.

Like we said, a staggering amount of money.

Think of what could be done with that much cash.

Of course, modern-day realities of American business are in play. A high percentage of retailers make as much as 40 percent or more of their annual profits during the two-month crunch of the Christmas shopping season. Given that, retailers habitually look for new ways to (a.) lure in more holiday consumers and (b.) make more money. Who can blame them, really?

Whether through layaway options or extended store hours, whether through drastically reduced prices or specials on highly sought-after products, retailers are as competitive for shoppers’ attention and checkbooks as ever before. It’s a cutthroat business that gets more bloodthirsty each year. The maturation of online shopping has only added to shoppers’ options and retailers’ pressure to reach their fiscal goals.

We say this not as an indictment of either capitalism or consumerism. (Nor of the uber-commercialization of the Christmas holiday, for what it’s worth.) Instead, we hope this serves as a reminder for Alabamians to remember the plight of those with little means during this time of year.

Even with a tepid job market and lingering long-term concerns about the economy, many Alabamians have enough money to justify trading a few Benjamins for Christmas gifts. As proof, we offer the jammed parking lots of Calhoun County’s shops and malls. We are glad that’s the case — both for those who believe in the holiday tradition of gift-giving, and for retailers whose livelihoods are affected, good and bad, by their take during the year’s final two months.

A healthy Christmas season means many things to many people.

Yet, as Alabamians dutifully go about their holiday shopping in coming weeks, we implore all to remember how fortunate they are if they have the means to provide gifts for their friends and loved ones. Even in times of prosperity, there are those among us who struggle not only to make ends meet, but to survive day to day.

For them, luxuries such as Christmas gifts can be a wishful thought.
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