The Economy and Etiquette of Gift Cards for Christmas

The Economy and Etiquette of Gift Cards for Christmas

There seems to be a love/hate relationship many have with gift cards. Some call such items impersonal while others embrace gift cards as quite the thoughtful gift. Like them or not, gift cards have become one of the most popularly exchanged items of Christmas. According to giftcards.com more than $100 billion is spent on gift cards annually and 93% of U.S. consumers claim purchasing or receiving a gift card each year. As the e-commerce economy grows so too have the rules of gift card etiquette shifted. For example, it used to be thought that a store gift card was moreRead more

Five Things to Buy for Christmas in the Summer

Five Things to Buy for Christmas in the Summer

It’s blazing hot outside – not a snowball in sight – and it’s time to buy for Christmas. No, we’re not talking big screen TVs or a hot video game system. We’re talking the nuts and bolts of Christmas you can and should shop for right now. July is traditionally the deadest period of the year for nearly all retailers. It is a month for mark-it-down-and-ship-it-out and stack-it-deep-and-sell-it-cheap. After all, most folks are vacationing or otherwise occupied with hot-weather pursuits. Absolutely nobody is in the stores. That’s why the season of sidewalk sales and Christmas-in-July dominates this time of year.Read more

Why I Boycotted All Stores This Christmas

Why I Boycotted All Stores This Christmas

I cut my teeth in retailing back in the 1970s. I literally grew up in a retail environment. I have memories of spending nights in the store on an office floor in a sleeping bag while my parents worked the sales floor to get it ready for the next day. These were years when product was stacked deep, prices were cheap and crowds were big. It was long before the Internet or shopping on phones. I went on to a long career that I continue in retail. It’s in my blood. But I did not shop in stores this ChristmasRead more

Book Review: The Midwife of Bethlehem

Book Review: The Midwife of Bethlehem

For many the story of the Nativity is told simply enough in the 2nd Chapter of Luke in the New Testament. But lacking in that telling are illustrations that children love to see when hearing a story. Also missing is an eye-witness account of events that help translate feelings of what transpired. A new children’s book by Shad Driggs titled The Midwife of Bethlehem attempts to bridge those gaps. As with all children’s books, the adult reader has to get past what is known in a common story. The Nativity is a common story. The Midwife of Bethlehem is aRead more

Cashing in on Santa

Cashing in on Santa

The commercialization of Christmas is reaching ever new heights as retailers and marketers continue to try to cash in on Santa. From movies to music this has always been the case but the presence of Santa in the marketplace has usually been utilized as a draw — bring in Santa for the kids and the parents will come along to spend money. That used to be the conventional thinking. But now they are starting to charge access to Santa himself — and that has people outraged. A Chicago-area mall is under fire this Christmas season for charging a $10 non-refundableRead more

Welcome to Walmart, Santa

Welcome to Walmart, Santa

You might see a different Walmart this Christmas. Uncle Wally is going all in for Christmas. There will be more Christmas music played in the stores. Festive decorations will be everywhere and not just for sale. And Santa will be there, with bells on, no doubt. Walmart is bringing on 3600 Santas for two weekends in December, all a part of what managers there call “holiday retailtainment”. It is part of a strategy Walmart is embracing to combat the relentless efforts of Amazon.com to be the king of Christmas. By creating the atmosphere of Christmas in the stores Walmart isRead more

There are No Heroes Among Retailers at Thanksgiving

There are No Heroes Among Retailers at Thanksgiving

The Black Friday mania is starting to ramp up as evidenced in this Sunday’s newspapers coast-to-coast. Supposedly Christmas shoppers are cheering the blockbuster deals already. But no doubt you have seen percolating on social media the inevitable memes showing which retailers will “honor employees and their families” while staying closed on Thanksgiving day or evening. One looks like this: Retailers are falling all over each other to stake a claim by issuing high minded press releases that tout either not doing business or by offering deals so beneficial for families that they will want to shop on Thanksgiving. Do notRead more