EDITORIAL: In its own way, shopping also is tradition of Christmas
Nov 27, 2012 (Yakima Herald-Republic - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Today, we've reached the Tuesday after Gray Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. After harrowing tales of shoppers enduring long lines and short tempers, Blue Christmas now sounds almost quaintly agreeable.
Gray Thursday -- that's Thanksgiving Day -- is new to this consumer categorization, reputedly a reference to the retail season infringing onto hallowed ground of the holiday. Black Friday has been around for a while, symbolizing when businesses made it into the black on their profit-and-loss sheets. This year, Gray Thursday seemed to have shaded into Black Friday and cut into the latter's sales; shoppers who had had their fill of food and football appeared eager to get out of the house on Thanksgiving evening.
Cyber Monday came relatively recently with the advent -- secular meaning, here -- of online shopping. Consumers sought out online bargains over the weekend, then acted on them upon the commencement of the work week after the holiday -- ostensibly because of stronger computer capabilities at the office. Lost in all this is the part about shopping on the employer's dime. But now, with businesses targeting mobile devices and other strategies, Cyber Monday has become more an allusion to time, not place.
All of this has inspired observations of how the Black Friday and Cyber Monday "traditions" are changing. This must bring chuckles, if forced ones, from those who recall the more -- um, traditional -- traditions of the holiday season.
But fact is, this is a crucial period as the nation emerges from a wrenching economic recession. Consumer spending has driven the American economy for decades, now accounting for about 70 percent of economic activity. Economists say the nation won't fully emerge from the recession until the public starts feeling confident enough to spend -- and these weeks from Thanksgiving into late December mark the peak time for people to spend.
Yes, it's easy for holiday commemorations to get out of balance, for people to ignore the religious roots of the season along with sentiments of peace and goodwill. But the economic aspect is nothing new; just remember that long before we put the names of hues and other adjectives before the days of the week, we had our countdown to shopping days before Christmas.
The time-honored holiday traditions will hold their own amid the commercial intrusion. And for an economy that can use a boost, this is the most wonderful time of the year.
--Members of the Yakima Herald-Republic editorial board are Sharon J. Prill, Bob Crider, Frank Purdy and Karen Troianello.
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