It’s all over the news: an economic recession, the global credit crunch, a world financial crisis – not really information that’ll get you into the festive holiday spirit. The worsening state of the economy is enough to make even Santa himself worry about the overhead costs at his North Pole toy workshop. With the current financial situation many Canadians find themselves in this holiday season, it makes sense that you’d expect to see less shopping, perhaps a parking space or two more than usual in the mall parking lot on a Saturday afternoon in December, or a slightly shorter line-up at the local big-box store. At least that’s what I was anticipating as I began my holiday shopping a few weeks ago.
What I saw was quite the opposite. I don’t know if it’s just me – maybe I say this every year – but it really seems as though there are more people shopping than there have been in holiday seasons past. They’re shopping more, for longer, and they’ve started earlier – it just doesn’t make any sense. We won’t know for sure until long after the trees and trimmings have been taken down, but at least from this student’s perspective, the threat of an economic recession sure hasn’t done anything to curb holiday spending around these parts.
Now, I’ll admit that I am likely a part of this phenomenon. The worsening financial situation in Canada hasn’t directly affected me yet – I don’t own a house, my only investment is my precious four-year-old laptop, and foreign currency exchange isn’t one of my daily activities. So, I haven’t stopped buying – I estimate that I am about on-par with last year in terms of holiday spending, though with an increased workload at school, I’ve left it for later in the season to begin my gift purchasing. Regardless of timing, my perception of holiday shopping, at least here in St. John’s, is that it is chugging along fast and furious, with little to no slowdown from the economic crisis many of the world’s highly industrialized democracies have found themselves in in recent months.
What really gets me isn’t the commercialism itself, or even the way society seems to be blatantly ignoring the impending economic doom that is being predicted by Canada’s top financial analysts. No, it’s the way people act. In malls, lineups, and parking lots across this great nation, people are acting as though it is absolute torture to buy a gift for a loved one. Each minute spent in a cash register queue or waiting for a sales associate to reach an item on a top shelf is a minute utterly wasted, disgracefully never to return again. Whether or not people have the money to shop this year, they are – but they’re not happy about it. It almost makes me wish for a society who believed what those analysts are telling us about the danger of credit, in the hopes that it might make for some empty mall corridors.
Whatever the public really thinks about the state of the economy, it is this negative attitude seen in holiday shoppers that explains precisely why I have done virtually all of my Christmas buying online this year. “Don’t you miss getting into the festive spirit of shopping during the holidays?” my friends ask. What festive spirit? The angry glares, the elbowing and shoving, the yelling and complaining? No, I can’t say I miss that at all. Finding unique gifts for my friends and family from the comfort of my own home with a glass of eggnog next to the computer screen while I shop? Now that’s what I call festive spirit. Recession or not, online shopping has me walking in a Grinch-free wonderland this holiday season.
Jillian Terry is a busy student who, between studying for finals, actually found the time to squeeze in some online and in-store holiday shopping this year (you’re welcome, friends and family).