Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Do We Really Need to Know This?

How would you like to have been the PR person assigned to write the press release accompanying the following headline?

“More than 38 Million Online Americans Shopped While on the Toilet”

Do we really need to know this? I know shopping has become more than just part of the fabric of the American way of life. To many it has become the total blanket. Still, do we really need to know that even on the potty people are dialing up their smartphones so they won’t miss that bargain of a lifetime. It used to be sitting on the john was reserved as “quality” reading time. If you remember the movie The Big Chill, the Jeff Goldblum character, a writer for People, said he and his colleagues were instructed to keep stories short enough so they could be read in total during the time it takes to complete one average dump. 

Anyway, back to the, ahem, news ... A Harris Interactive survey paid for by CashStar, suggests “that more than 38 million online adult Americans admit to having shopped online while on the toilet.” Compare that to “almost 17 million shopping via a mobile device while standing in the retailer's physical store.”

Among the other enlightening though not projectable findings of this online survey of 2,104 adults aged 18 and older conducted Nov. 6-8:
*Potty shopping was more of a male than female activity;
*Shopping online trumps safety as more than four million said they shopped while driving;
*The business of business is business, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that more than nine million said they have secretly shopped while in a business meeting;
*Seven million-plus Americans shopped from their mobile device while at the grocery store.

Get to Work Thursday: I never liked Sunday Blue Laws, the civic ordinances that required retailers to be closed Sundays, or another day of the week if one’s religion celebrated the sabbath on a different schedule that Christian America. Blue Laws mostly vanished in the last 25 years except in some hamlets like Paramus, NJ; some companies, such as Chick-fil-A, remain closed on Sundays because of the religious belief of their founders, Truett Cathy in the case of Chick-fil-A. 

I like having access to stores every day. But I also believe store personnel are entitled to some family life. They should not be deprived of holidays with their families. Or friends. With the exception of drug stores and partial hours for supermarkets, stores should be closed on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I’m also okay with no retailing on Christmas and Easter. No one should go into cardiac arrest because they can’t get their Target or Victoria’s Secret fix. Yet these stores, and a whole lot more, have scheduled openings for Thanksgiving. It’s not enough they make workers get to the store before the sun rises for Black Friday sales, now they are thrusting a consumer frenzy mindset onto a day that had always been reserved for family. There’s enough tension already in these family gatherings without the extra hype shopping demands. 

My daughter’s brother-in-law Rob posted a neat idea—“Any stores that start Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving this year will be getting zero business from us.” He included a list of stores opening on Thanksgiving: 
http://retailindustry.about.com/od/2012ThanksgivingDay11222012/a/2012-Thanksgiving-Day-Store-Hours-Opening-Times-November-22-Complete-Roundup-List_2.htm. It’s going to be pretty hard to stay away from many of these stores, but the sentiment is one worth considering.

Lots of people, nearly half the country, will struggle to shop in stores this weekend, but there’s growing evidence the activity does not rate high on people’s preferred activities. According to Western Union Holiday Gifting Index, 68% of those who shopped on Black Friday last year said they did not think the experience was worth the money they saved. 

I Love You, Craig: As long as we are on the subject of waste matter (see above), Gilda has embarked on a composting binge. All manner of uncooked vegetables, fruits, tea leaves, cooked egg shells and cardboard egg cartons are making their way into our compost pile. Normally, I fill up the pile with free compost from our city municipal dump. But I got there too late this year. Without compost, Gilda’s flower and vegetable garden would not be extraordinary, so we’re now a composting family. 

Composting, however, requires leaves. Lots of leaves. Shredded leaves. The electric blower/shredder I borrowed from my brother last year doesn’t really work (no wonder he let me have it). New electric leaf shredders cost about $200. I opted to try to find a used on on Craig’s List. Score! I found one today 60 miles away in New Jersey for just $25. 

While I’m at a meeting tonight, Gilda will be surprised when she comes home from work and sees the Craftsman Leafwacker Plus where my car usually rests in the garage (don't worry about her finding out before she gets home; she rarely reads my posts the day they go up). I even bagged six large loads of leaves from around the neighborhood. I know what you’re thinking—I’m such a thoughtful husband. There’s lots of truth to that. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m retired and able to spend time, thanks to Craig’s List, fulfilling her dreams.