Christmas time and the buying of gifts brings out the continual battle between the retailers and the shoppers each year. This year, 2012, we have been continually hearing that retail shop sales have been down and consumers have not been spending, due to fears about interest rates on their mortgages and home loans rising. There is the continual talk about some consumers buying more products online from overseas retailers/wholesalers and getting better deals than buying from the shops, here in Australia.

 Therefore, retailers have started to put some items on sale before the traditional Boxing Day sales on the 26th and 27th of December. But really, Australians are so well versed in the massive reductions of Boxing Day. They give each other gift cards or money as Christmas presents and as soon as the Boxing Day sales begin, they invade the stores. There really are more people shopping on Boxing Day than any other given day in the retail calendar. That is because the bargains are so numerous and significant.

Retailers start out putting high mark ups on their products. A certain percentage of the population can afford to pay these prices, but it is considered far too dear by many people. They wait for the inevitable sales. So the clothes, shoes, handbags and a whole range of products sit in the stores for months. Then comes the spending frenzy on Boxing Day, when swarms of people, with their gift cards and Christmas money, splurge on the massive priced items.

Where once there were quiet and deserted, up market suburban department stores and smaller specialty outlets, shoppers invade the aisles like ants. They quickly pick out the items they want to buy in a particular store, then join the long lines, about twenty or so in length, to pay for their cherished bargain. After that, they will move onto the next store offering great deals. How do people manage to stay on those long, slow-moving and seemingly never moving lines? And why do some people take so long to transact a purchase? There should be a two minute time limit per person. If you can’t get it done by then, you go to the end of the line. The only thing worse is standing in a McDonald’s line at lunch time, behind women and small children and having to wait until they get their lunch order. Literally, some of them can take over five minutes to give their order and get it delivered to the counter. Their children want to pick out toys or change their minds on what they want to eat. What ever you do, don’t get stuck behind a women with a baby stroller and four children. It will take twice as long for them to get served.

But why do retailers string this yearly battle out with consumers. They know people are not going to pay some of the high prices they put on some items. If they put the sale/low prices on items to begin with, they would sell a lot more quickly. We would then be spending more during the whole of the year. There would be no Boxing Day sales anymore or January sales, but that doesn’t matter. The products would be selling throughout the year on a regular basis, rather than for a big splurge, at the end of  December, each year. Retailers have had to mark down dramatically anyway to get sales. Their profit margins have been reduced. Why does it all have to happen in just a few weeks in December and January? Why can’t it be spread out over the whole retail year? If they abolished the sale period and had low prices all the time, their sales figures would be more consistent throughout the year. Perhaps they wouldn’t have to go so low in price as the sale prices they have now. There still might be some items left over which they could put into a mini sale around this time of year.

And what is wrong with some retailers? They buy far too many christmas items each year. You can see umpteen christmas trees, decorations, wrapping paper, mince pies, lights, santa hats etc, sitting on their shelves on Boxing Day. The only way they can get rid of them is to reduce the price by 50%. Surely, they don’t make much out of it. Why do they order in so much stock? It never sells at christmas time. They are always left with massive stock piles still sitting on the shelves. Of course, these represent great bargains for consumers, but very low profit margins for retailers. I suppose they are so cheap for stores to buy all these items from China, they don’t care about over supplying themselves with christmas paraphernalia. Have you noticed though, that the candy canes just don’t taste much like peppermint these days. In fact, I had one that tasted more like glue, than real peppermint. The standard has gone down, since they contracted the Chinese to make these candy canes.

This whole Boxing Day sale frenzy gets to be a bit of a yearly ridiculous event. People hold off spending because they know reductions will be offered on the 26/27th of December. And the poor sales assistants have to go back to work so soon after Christmas Day. It would be far better to get rid of this yearly gigantic sale and have real sales or low prices throughout the year. This would be a much better arrangement for all those sales assistants that have to set up the Boxing Day sales and put up with serving the huge crowds on the 26/27th of December. Retailers would get their stock turned into money sooner, if they put lower prices on their products to begin with. But they continually go on with this yearly mark down each year. The enormous crowds and long lines are very tiresome and boring.

The only amusing thing about the crowds are the funny characters that come out because of the sales. These people hardly are seen in public throughout the rest of the year. I actually saw someone as big as Hagrid, from the Harry Potter movies, walking around one of the large Westfield shopping centre. He really stood out from the crowd. He looked like a giant alien. Then, there was a guy with a pony tail all the way down his back. But the real freaks are the females with all the tattoos on their arms, legs and backs.

Thank you christmas retailers for coaxing out all the hilarious people around this time of year, with your wonderful sales!