I happened to stroll through the business news this week and I am still surprised to hear that retailers are quoting disappointing holiday sales figures. I know this is happening, but I don’t know where.
One of my favorite variety stores is claiming that its December sales totals were down 5 percent and they expect sales to drop again in January. I was in that store in December. It looked to me like things were flying off the shelves. I’m quite certain that I saw carts loaded to the top. They were all ahead of me in line every time I went there.
How is it possible that this level of shopping leads to lower sales figures? Any jump in patronage would have the place looking like somebody had kicked an anthill. We would have grown old waiting to check out. No, we would have grown old looking for a parking place and become doddering waiting to check out. Every lot I pulled in to and every store I patronized was way too busy. How does this leave them with a loss? If you project into next year and figure stores will cut personnel in order to raise profits, you might want to start your holiday shopping in June. It will take you until November to get out of the store.
The biz news also told of the continued holiday toy wars, with Toys “R” Us battling it out with Wal-Mart, and FAO Schwartz bringing up the rear. Then I saw our local Toy Garden had disappeared. That’s just troubling. What will become of us if we lose the glitter and glamour of the sumptuous, classy toy stores? Where will we find our his-and-hers Teddy Bears with real diamond collars? Where will we go to oooh and aaaah at the Madame Alexander dolls when we visit the big cities? I can’t say I’ve ever bought anything in either place, but being left with nothing but too-bright, disheveled, cut-rate toy stores is just depressing.
In other odd business news, I heard that Harry and David had to recall more than 2,000 boxes of its giant cashews because they might contain undeclared mixed nuts. The problem, of course, is for those with an allergy to nuts other than cashews. I have to say that anyone allergic to any sort of nut is living life on the wild side to be ordering cashews in the first place. By the way, Harry and David, you can have my giant cashews when you pry them from my sticky, overfed hands.
I feel certain there was some gleeful backslapping at the headquarters for the Buy American movement. A major department store chain also got itself in a bit of recall trouble with some made-in-Taiwan candles whose outside coating catches fire. I think I had one of those. When it started to smoke and flare, everyone pointed fingers at me for being too dim to peel the wrapper off properly. I will be sending out copious notes to everyone pointing out that I now have someone else to blame.
In spite of the recession, if you are looking for a reason to wake up happy, simply not owning any stocks should be enough. Every market report continues to make me queasy. I don’t even want to look into the status of my desperately dwindling retirement fund.
I am a card-carrying capitalist, but I have to say I am relying on you big spenders to keep all the stores open and busy. I have become a devotee of the discount/thrift store circuit and am rarely found buying retail these days. That may explain why all my sleeves are a little too long, my cuffs are a little too short and I have some very odd colors in my wardrobe. But they were such a steal.
Jean Gillette is the Community News editor for The Coast News Group. As a journalist, she primarily worked in San Clemente and Los Angeles. She has been with the Coast News for 20 years and lives in La Costa.