Editor’s Note: Way Off the Grid is a satire feature of Off the Grid News. While the articles in this section may deal with current events, they are meant to portray these topics in a satirical and humorous light.
BENTONVILLE – Wal-Mart caught millions of shoppers off guard Thursday when it had to explain that the new holiday shopping season was not intended for this December’s gift-giving extravaganza but the next. Wal-Mart customers across the nation wandered around in circles for some moments until the news sank in.
Wal-Mart spokesperson Daphne Adams explained, “Our coveted Black Friday circular clearly stated that all gifts purchased now can only be given a year from now. This coming Christmas’s shopping season ended back in July. It’s all done. Finished.”
The National Consumer Association said in a Tuesday press release that it had been raising consciousness for years about “how retailers began holiday sales earlier and earlier. The shopping season simply lapped those who weren’t paying attention. Now we have to live with it and adjust.”
Wal-Mart checkout lines ballooned as clerks and customers had to sort and reshelf gifts mistakenly intended for this Christmas. Wal-Mart quickly adapted, though, calling in additional staff to help speed lines. Hundreds of Wal-Mart stores in the Midwest setup calendar-counseling tables to help explain the shopping season cycles with the aid of large pie graphs. Many customers expressed great relief that though they couldn’t buy gifts for Christmas, they were allowed to shop now for Valentine’s Day goods.
Other customers were not as compliant. Shirley Tanner of Abilene, Texas, complained that she had already purchased gifts before the Black Friday announcement came out but after July. “That was a no-man’s land time,” she said. Wal-Mart officials told her that she either had to return those gifts to the store or hand them out now and inform the recipients that they were just late for last Christmas. Tanner refused to do either, and Wal-Mart authorities arrested her in her driveway.
Other big-box retailers were not far behind in copying Wal-Mart’s lead. Target announced that, unlike Wal-Mart, customers would still be allowed to purchase gifts for this year’s Christmas up to and including Black Friday. Best Buy stores said it had hoped to make the shift to the lapping schedule, but it hadn’t yet received next year’s new tech goods. Amazon.com said it had been ahead of the curve and had started shipping empty boxes before consumers ordered.
Consumer-trend economist, Larry Franklin, defended the overlap in holiday shopping. “Yes, it takes a bit of calculation, but in slow years like this one, it’s a tremendous benefit to retailers to gather income for next year’s inventory even before it’s officially warehoused.” Franklin added that this income-cushion helps many businesses stave off bankruptcy for a while longer, until consumers realize they no longer want their goods and services. “But by that point, retailers already have a year’s jump on consumers. It’s win-win, if you omit consumers.”
Protesters started picketing numerous Wal-Mart’s in the Atlanta area. Jared Manning, one of the protesters, said, “We just think customers should know how long they’ll have to hold onto today’s purchases before going in the store.” Darla Jones carried an anti-milk placard “because if I wanted to buy someone milk for Christmas, I’d have to freeze it for a year. That’s not right.”
Other protesters demanded that Wal-Mart publish a calendar clearly color-coding when each holiday shopping season starts and stops. “Otherwise, we’ll get confused about things like costumes and maybe my kids will show up at Palm Sunday in a Darth Maul outfit.” Wal-Mart spokesperson Bill Noonan said Wal-Mart agreed completely about the need for a shopping-season calendar. He said Wal-Mart had indeed published such a calendar for next year, “but it sold out last February.”
Wal-Mart vice-president of customer service, Eduardo Dobbs, warned customers that “the calendar cycle is not going to get any easier.” He explained that within five years, the Christmas shopping season would lap itself twice. “It’s part of inevitabilities of the new world we live in, and there’s nothing Wal-Mart can do about it.”
When asked about customers who missed out on shopping for this Christmas, Dobbs said that most customers who missed were happy to shift to next year’s Mother’s Day gifts as Christmas gifts. He also encouraged customers to be creative. He suggested that customers who missed out could “try another religion just this one year, one without gifts, perhaps Buddhism. Then switch back when they’re more up to speed.”
©2011 Off the Grid News