Retailers predict the economic equivalent of coal in their Christmas stockings. Who cares? As stated by Dr. Seuss’ Grinch, Christmas does not come from a store, and we encourage our readers to let the Grinch have Black Friday and the whole holiday shopping season. Young children can be taught the virtue of delayed gratification with the explanation that Santa Claus can bring them more if they wait until after Christmas. This is, of course, because the same amount of money can buy far more after Christmas.
Twenty or thirty years ago, there would have indeed been reason to care about holiday sales figures. The purchase of American-made goods would have enriched American workers and their employers, which would have in turn stimulated the American economy. The purchase of Chinese-made trash–and “trash” describes numerous personal experiences with it plus the well-known cases of poisoned pet food, contaminated heparin, and dangerous toys–stimulates China’s economy while it rewards importers for shipping American jobs offshore.
Consumers should also question the value of well-known brand names. As an example, Levi Strauss gained a reputation for manufacturing durable American-made denim work pants for miners. Dockers pants are now made in China, and we see no reason to pay designer label prices for Chinese-made commodities. Here are additional examples Chinese-made products:
- Promotional travel bags from Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Perry Ellis
- Sharper Image (an upscale label)
- Numerous tools in hardware and home improvement stores; check the label before you pay a designer label price for a Chinese commodity.
In any event, if it’s made in China, it is essentially a commodity no matter whose label is on it. Our inclination is to tell the retailer, when we bother to tell him anything at all, “This might be a fair price for an American-made product but, since it’s made in China, we’re sure you can sell it for a lot less.” This brings us back to our original point; if you wait until December 26, you will find that the retailer can and must sell it for a lot less.
Consumers need to understand the relation between the retail supply chain and post-season sales. Chinese commodities are imported on container ships, so retailers must order large quantities. If the inventory doesn’t sell, the retailer must dispose of it at fire-sale prices to make room for the next large batch of Chinese-made junk (e.g. like the interactive dog toy we had to throw away after one use, when we discovered that a plastic noisemaker inside splintered into dangerous fragments when our dog chewed on it). It is meanwhile well known that retailers must clear away inventories of winter clothing to make room for spring styles, and the same applies to summer clothing in August.
Smart shoppers can and should game this system by waiting until the end of the season, when they can essentially dictate prices to the retailers. Retailers should realize in turn, however, that they can order smaller quantities of American (and admittedly Canadian and Mexican goods, because these sources are connected to us by road and rail) as needed. If they keep smaller inventories, and replenish them only in response to sales, they can hold prices steady.
We therefore encourage our readers to leave Black Friday’s traffic, crowds, and long lines to the suckers and marks who are willing to waste their time and money, and wait until December 26 to buy anything at all. (This is how we buy Christmas cards that retail for $20 or more per box, but drop 40% or more on Boxing Day; we just keep them for the next year.) Save time and gasoline, laugh at the traffic from the comfort of your home, and help the Grinch deliver little lumps of coal and a lot of red ink to all the companies that laid off American workers to ship their jobs to China.
Show young children the long lines that are backed up to see Santa Claus in the shopping mall. Tell them that Santa will be a lot less busy after December 25, so he and his elves will have time to bring them MORE gifts than he can deliver to the children who are in a hurry. When they grow old enough to understand how this works, they will themselves be smart consumers who know how to get as much value as possible for their money.