It's cold outside, the traffic is heavy, the stores
are packed solid with cranky, pushy people and Christmas
music, and the news is dominated by stories about - what
else? - shopping. It's that time of year again: The
Annual Holiday-Themed Mass Consumption Month!
Actually, that's not exactly correct. It used to be
just a month, but every year the Christmas shopping
season is stretched a bit further to boost sales. I
clearly recall hearing Christmas music playing at the
FSK Mall before Halloween. That makes the Christmas
shopping season stretch over a full two months; one
sixth of a year. If this trend continues, the shopping
season will literally be as long as an actual
If you think about it, it's truly remarkable how we
Americans are driven into a buying frenzy. The Christmas
music is usually the first sign. Malls and stores will
begin playing the music earlier every year, tricking the
shoppers into thinking that the holiday season is
quickly approaching. Besides that, it is scientifically
proven that background music affects shopping habits,
and I can't help but imagine that the music associated
with Christmas is extremely powerful in increasing
Have you ever wondered what the "Christmas spirit"
really is? It is a mindset that has been meticulously
created by clever marketing over the last few decades.
It has been handled so expertly that companies can now
advertise their products and spread sappy messages about
how Christmas isn't about presents at the same time!
The Christmas lights, the endlessly repeating music,
Photos with Santa, and storewide sales are all parts of
the Christmas spirit, and all of them are intended to
attract customers and entice them to buy more than they
ever have in the past.
One of the lesser-known forces in driving sales is
the televised news. For the last week or so, the news
channels have featured numerous stories about how the
day after Thanksgiving is expected to be the busiest
shopping day of the year, as always. Today, in fact, is
known as "Black Friday." If you want to know how it got
that name, just watch the news - they talk about it
every year - and I don't feel like repeating it. Anyway,
from now until Christmas, much of the news will be
Shopping? How is shopping news? It's just a bunch of
reporters at crowded stores saying the same thing: "It's
really crowded here today because people are rushing to
buy gifts for Christmas." Wow, thanks for the newsflash.
As far back as I can remember, there has only been
one holiday shopping-related story worthy of the news.
It was last year, when a woman was trampled to death as
people charged the doors of a Wal-Mart to grab $30 DVD
players. That should have been yet another sign that the
Christmas consumerism in the country has gone too far,
but then today on CNN I saw a stock clip of some woman
rushing up to a mountain of $27.50 DVD players at
Wal-Mart and taking five or six in one armful.
Manslaughter's got nothin' on a good deal.
There was one intriguing report about shopping today.
One of the correspondents said that, of the shoppers he
had talked to, many of them said that they had to be
more careful with their money this year than they have
in the past (Obviously this is Clinton's fault).
Shopping carefully simply means only buying things that
are on sale. The stores, however, have had years of
experience in balancing sales and purchases, so the
second half of the story was that people are ending up
buying more stuff than ever.
The stores are obviously in control of the American
consumers. With an arsenal consisting of commercials,
the entertainment industry, the televised media, and a
psychologically designed shopping atmosphere, it's no
mystery why people are continually willing to buy more
stuff every year, no matter how they are doing
articles related to capitalism written by Scott