True meaning of Christmas- accruing debt
11 January, 2012
True meaning of Christmas- accruing debt

Against all predictions and warnings that US economy is not what it used to be, Santa has done well by many people this year. One part of the society most pleased with Santa this year is the banking industry.

Due to US’s inherent inability to stay away from shopping malls before and during Christmas, bank owners are jumping for joy at their holiday bonuses. To be fair, Big banks don’t need holidays to celebrate, as their ‘too big to fail’

argument has gotten them bailout from people whom they subsequently denied mortgage loans, car loans, student loans and anything else they could deny, because suddenly they had become frugal with other peoples money. It would have been prudent for people to do the same, yet when it comes to Christmas shopping, no one can compete with the US for the number one spot as retail shopping experience.

(Except for Luxemburg apparently, but that’s cheating because they have high salaries and low tax rates, and thus they are disqualified.)
Holiday shopping is when most consumers go into debt, and even though there is a high unemployment rate in the States, it doesn’t do anything to the economy of shopping malls. According to news reports that even though the most shopping this year has been done in One-dollar Shops and Pawn stores, malls with big chain stores such as Macy’s or Walmart have been doing rather well.


To see this phenomena for myself, I went to such a  mall in Atlanta, GA, and  while an empty parking  space was almost impossible to find and the mall was packed with people, I had not witnessed any more unusual amount of shopping than on an average day. If anything, hordes of shoppers seemed to meander from shop to shop with a coffee in hand looking, but not buying. If anyone looked like they were doing well in their business it was the Starbucks. It was perhaps the sight because I had gone to the stores in the early hours of the day, because by noon, the whole mall transformed. I don’t know if it was the coffee intake, or what, but suddenly everyone was moving at high speed, carrying bags and bumping into each other.  A clerk at one of the stores explained that typically on weekends noon was around the time Hunters/gatherers (bargain hunter who cannot leave the store empty handed) had come to shop. If you are a bargain hunter, the one who can tirelessly spend hours in one store dodging and weaving though slow moving crowds of people Macy’s was a good place where you could practise your hunting skills. There were very little on sale or in bargain corners and very little of that was worth buying in the first place and definitely nothing worth fighting other shoppers for.


Perhaps this is why most people chose to do their shopping this year online. No long lines for the cash register, no disappointing lack of giftable items, and no crowds. But even those who shopped online had gone overboard and helped accumulate more credit debt. It seems that consumers would rather buy a gift that had nothing to do with the person it was going to, then not have anything to give during Christmas. I was sure to be one of those unfortunate people, but I was pleasantly surprised. While, in previous years I had myself been a victim of gifts that had been bought in a desperate attempt to fill my Christmas stocking, this year, my gifts were singular and perfect. And what’s more important,  no one had to go into debt for them. Thank you Santa.

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