Here we go. The madness of the holidays already is in full swing. We endured “Black Friday” and yesterday was “Cyber Monday.” It can be fun to keep track of the big city insanity from the comforts of my cyber couch, but I would not want to be out there right now.
We are off to a rough start this year. Some use the holiday rushes to practice the art of kleptomania. Warning: You had better be real clever, especially if you shop(lift) at Walmart. Last Sunday in the Lithonia, Ga. Walmart, a man was apparently attempting to make off with a couple of DVD players. He was apprehended in the parking lot by Walmart employees and security. By the time the cops got there the man did not resist arrest. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that there had been an “altercation” in the parking lot between the suspect, the security guard and the employees. According to NBC News, Dianna Gee, a Walmart spokeswoman, released a statement on Sunday saying the security guard would no longer provide services for the store and that the two employees were on leave.
The good news is that Walmart does not put stuff ahead of people’s lives, even shoplifters. Even though your greeter may be a Kung Fu black belt, that’s not part of a Walmart greeter’s training protocol.
“No amount of merchandise is worth someone’s life,” Gee said in her statement. “Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk.”
Must be difficult to keep your cool as a greeter in the whirling maelstrom of Black Friday at Walmart. If you are bored and need proof that America is in the saddest state of decline, simply Google “Black Friday Madness.” The first video link shows a few minutes of people yelling, pushing, poking and pulling at each other over some silly toy made by Chinese kids for 50 cents a week.
Employees in yellow vests with smiley faces are just trying to hold their own in a sea of humanity bent on buying crap before the next guy.
In another video from a Walmart in Oklahoma City last Friday, customers act like savages with each other as they go for the Xbox Black Ops video games. Store displays are flung about as patrons’ hands reach in and grab whatever they can get a hold of. The video already has been viewed by almost 200,000 bored Internet users.
It’s hard to believe that the economy is in free fall and that we are all about to go ass over tea kettle over a fiscal cliff into an economic abyss and then blame the government for everything.
Consumer spending seems to be doing quite well, despite what some economists call “uncertainty.” There was nothing uncertain about those Xbox fiends. They were there to spend, even if it meant knocking a few heads together to do it.
According to CNN, in McAllen, Texas, Abercrombie and Fitch had to temporarily close store entrances due to capacity crowds. Where is everyone getting all this shopping money?
Shopper Trak, a group that keeps track of such things, says that Black Friday store visits were up 3.5 percent from last year to more than 307.67 million. Sales were at $11.2 billion, down a nudge from last year but that was probably because some stores opened for Black Friday on Thursday and American consumers followed like sheep.
Stuff is overrated. This holiday shopping madness is all about stuff and is embarrassing to witness. And just because I am an old softie, I too, will enter a store in my down coat and jostle among the other customers that will show my loved ones that I do, in fact, care for them very much.
Steve Skinner thinks we should find a better way to measure success than consumer spending. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.