Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’
November 27th, 2015 at 2:23 pm
Wising Up to the ‘Black Friday Con’
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Black Friday is upon us, and — in keeping with tradition — so are the attendant brawls, melees, assaults, thefts and general mayhem.

Nevertheless, Black Friday appears a bit more sedate this year overall. Reuters reports:

Bargain hunters found relatively little competition compared with previous years. Some had already shopped Thursday evening, reflecting a new normal of U.S. holiday shopping, where stores open up with deals on Thanksgiving itself, rather than waiting until Black Friday.

Retailers “have taken the sense of urgency out for consumers by spreading their promotions throughout the year and what we are seeing is a result of that,” said Jeff Simpson, director of the retail practice at Deloitte. Traffic in stores was light on Friday, while Thursday missed his expectations, he said.

As much as 20 percent of holiday shopping is expected to be done over the Thanksgiving weekend this year, analysts said. But the four days are not considered a strong indicator for the entire season. A slow start last year led to deeper promotions and a shopping rush in the final ten days of December.

Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc , told Reuters he was not surprised that a store would see thinner crowds on Friday after it kicked off Black Friday deals on Thursday night.

Suntrust Robinson Humphrey analysts were more blunt, calling Thursday a “bust”. “Members of our team who went to the malls first had no problem finding parking or navigating stores,” he wrote in a note.

My Manhattan Institute colleague Nicole Gelinas anticipated this turn in her New York Post column earlier this week. The crux: consumers are a lot smarter about bargain-hunting than retailers think. She writes:

Last year, Thanksgiving weekend sales dropped by double digits.

It’s important to remember here: This is good news. People aren’t as stupid as retailers think they are. They saw the artificially created stampedes for a piece of plastic that their kids will have broken or forgotten about in a few weeks anyway — and they said no.

Plus, retailers’ fake-emergency marketing has worked against them. People can see that stuff is already on sale — and that it will be on sale next week, the week after and, of course, after Christmas. There is no rush.

People are also smarter than their own government. For the past seven years, Washington has kept interest rates at record lows in the hopes that people would go out and borrow and spend again. They haven’t.

People knew, in 2007 and 2008, that they had taken on way too much debt.

Since then, they’ve been trying to fix that — and in doing so, have been helping us strengthen our economy. Americans’ household debt peaked in 2007, at about $16.2 trillion in today’s dollars. Today, it’s barely above $14 trillion.

Black Friday is unlikely to go away altogether — it’s hard to remember now, but 15 years ago, most retailers’ idea of opening early the day after Thanksgiving meant 7:00 a.m. — but a little more sanity and fewer doorbuster donnybrooks would be a welcome turn of events.

December 24th, 2012 at 12:16 pm
Apart From Politics

A few thoughts completely unrelated to politics, in a couple of American Spectator columns. In the latter, I deal with this problem into which I sometimes fall:

Sometimes it’s easy to strive too hard to find new meanings in the old familiar Christmas story. The symbology is in some senses profound but also so obvious, and in some ways so simple, that it can seem hackneyed, especially in our modern, jaded world. The impulse is either to give mere lip service to the Christmas message or, for those with a different cast of mind, to try to complicate it in search of some great new insight.

My eventual conclusion is that there’s nothing wrong with simplicity.

Merry Christmas.

December 21st, 2012 at 8:41 pm
Podcast: An Assault on Christmas and Free Speech
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In an interview with CFIF, Robert Knight, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times, discusses the most recent cases related to attempted bans on Christmas decorations, the ACLU’s threatened lawsuit over opening government meetings with a prayer and free speech versus the sound of silence.

Listen to the interview here.

November 9th, 2011 at 2:15 pm
Obama’s Yuletide Gift to the Nation? A Christmas Tree Tax
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Four years ago at this time, we were all being told about the unrivaled intelligence of both candidate Barack Obama and his presidential campaign. Now, as the One prepares to launch his reelection campaign in earnest, we see how far the mighty have fallen. From Fox News:

The Obama administration has imposed a 15-cent tax on Christmas trees in order to pay for a new board tasked with promoting the Christmas tree industry.

There are still about eight weeks left in the year, but the odds are pretty good that this is the single dumbest sentence you will read about American politics this year. Even John Maynard Keynes deep into the eggnog would have a hard time working out the economic rationale of taxing an industry in order to finance a campaign promoting that same industry. And is there an epidemic lack of public awareness about Christmas trees in America? (Side note: are the PC police okay with calling them “Christmas trees” as long as we’re taxing them?)

More than anything else, this is just incredibly amateurish politics. With the flood of public workers who have come to D.C. during the Obama years, you’d think there’d be at least one political apointee with the savvy necessary to point out that a president presiding over a prolonged economic downturn (including 9 percent unemployment) may not want to make his contribution to the holidays a tax on the foundational symbol of the season. I suspect the principle may not sink in until next Christmas, when the president’s stocking is stuffed with a first-class ticket back to Chicago.

UPDATE: ABC News is now reporting that the administration is “going to delay implementation and revisit this action” in light of the uproar. It’s hard to know whether to be thankful that media scrutiny could cause such a swift retreat or depressed that it had to get this far down the road before the White House realized there was a problem.

December 22nd, 2010 at 4:20 pm
Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Very Happy New Year!
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As we gather with friends and family for this joyous holiday season, let us not forget those brave men and women who put themselves in harms’ way to protect our freedoms.  Many of them won’t be with their families; they’ll be on bases, in tents and aboard ships far from home.  So, let’s be sure to keep our troops in our hearts and in our thoughts this Christmas.  And if you see members of our Armed Forces, please make it a point to thank them for all they do every day in the service to our great country.

December 28th, 2009 at 11:27 pm
Lockheed Crosses the Delaware
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In this, the hair of the dog week of the holiday season, there’s cause for good cheer on the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border. That’s where Lockheed Martin pledged $400,000 to keep alive the state park commemorating George Washington’s daring 1776 Christmas crossing of the Delaware River — a bold act that led to the colonies’ victories in the battles of Trenton and Princeton, and breathed life into what looked like a losing American cause.

I have to admit an emotional attachment to this issue. A year ago, in the waning days of the Bush Administration, I used the Christmas version of the President’s radio address to tout the amazing story of Washington’s Crossing to the American people. With the holiday weekend allowing a rare respite from the White House’s around-the-clock schedule, I spent a Saturday making the drive from my home in Alexandria, Virginia, to the banks of the Delaware River that the father of our country had crossed 232 years earlier.   It was a sight at once inspiring and tragic.

On those shores, where the dreams of an independent republic could well have foundered, is an aging and dilapidated visitor center that looks like it hasn’t been updated or improved for 30 years. Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting of the crossing (which at the time was hanging in the lobby of the West Wing) was replicated on a grand scale — but in an empty auditorium with buckets to catch the leaks from the roof and seating that looked like it had been pried from a condemned elementary school.

The center was reportedly facing closure because of cuts in the Pennsylvania state budget. That’s a shame. If conservatives and liberals can agree to spend money on anything, it ought to be on commemorating the great moments and great men in American history. And frankly (my only call for greater federal power in 2009 is coming in three … two …), as a place of national significance, there’s no reason that the federal government shouldn’t be picking up this ball if Pennsylvania is intent on dropping it.  In the meantime, thanks be to Lockheed. And if you’d like to lend your support, you can do so here.