The Black Friday emails started in my inbox early last week from the handfull of stores and online retail sites that I subscribe to. Some online retailers have emailed me no less than SEVEN times in the past 24 hours with different offers and discounts. (I decided to unsubscribe completely.)

My take on the craziness is that (in the United States anyhow) the retail sector has whipped consumers into a frenzy, and we are now at the breaking point. In my opinion, harassing customers by scaring them into shopping 'early' for the best discounts is deceitful. We are made to feel that if we do not stand in line at 11pm to shop, someone else will grab up the limited inventory on items promoted most heavily. Some 'big box' stores planned to open at 6pm on Thanksgiving night and stay open, without closing, through Sunday night for a total of almost 75 hours of uninterrupted shopping.

I can tell you that unless you are selling a brand-new fully-equipped Ford Flex for $5,000 I'm not standing in line at 3am in the cold with hundreds of other people. Of course that's extreme. For some people 3am lines and the crush of a crowd is worth the hassle in order to make dollars go farther for their families this holiday season. I'm not disrespecting that at all. I'm just upset at some stores for using fear tactics that wind up making (some) consumers to behave poorly in order to make a purchase. Gratefully, I have heard of a lot of pleasant stories this year regarding Black Friday midnight sales and kind and helpful sales staff.

Although my kids would disagree, I'm more a fan of either homemade gifts or 'experiences'. I don't like to have gifts under the tree for the sake of having gifts under the tree. I like to give unique or homemade gifts (this year I'm on a chocolate covered pretezel and bacon kick) and really think about each person I'm purchasing for.

Along that line, I'm a HUGE fan of +American Express's Small Business Saturday. I am a former "independently-owned" retail store owner prior to the (marketing) invention of Small Business Saturday. It is nearly impossible for a small business to out-advertise the large companies to get the attention of buyers. Coming from the consumer point of view, I would rather spend my money and time at a place where I know more of my purchase money is going to a local economy (even if it is via online and not my own local neighborhood). Cyber Monday is the online version of Black Friday but because the Internet is the great equalizer, both local / small businesses and large stores can both take advantage to gain more customers.

I really hope the craziness of opening stores up ON a holiday and all but forcing employees to work rather than enjoy some much-deserved and needed time off with family and friends ends soon. I don't want to feel manipulated as a consumer into leaving the very people I plan on purchasing gifts for on a holiday just to get a discount. I'm tired of feeling taken advantage of for my purchasing potential rather than a valued part of a company or business.

It would be my holiday wish this year that my family as well as all others can get back to basics, spend time with the people they care about, and lessen the focus on 'more' and work on 'better'.

Happy holidays…

#blog   #SmallBizSat  

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Small Business Saturday®
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