Well, Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat.
Maybe not too fat. The goose may be a little thin these days. With all that’s going on right now — recovering from a government shutdown, furloughs, a budget battle — people don’t really feel good about the economy. And when people don’t feel good about the economy, retailers worry.
They worry so much that Black Friday is spilling over to Thanksgiving Day, even earlier this year. Major box stores are offering can’t-be-beat sales as early as 6 p.m. and promising customers that they will get that coveted item if they stand in line, or will guarantee the item will be shipped to them before Christmas.
“The earlier times, competitive deals and spike in ‘guaranteed’ products signify retailers pulling out all the stops to bring in more customers, as they enter a shorter shopping season with more wary shoppers,” Annika McGinnis of USA Today writes.
So will extending Black Friday and pulling people into the stores work? After all, consumer confidence is at its lowest since 2011.
“Confidence gauges only reflect what people say about how they think they feel,” Justin Lahart of the Wall Street Journal writes. “Other more tangible forces suggest spending through the end of the year should be robust.”
Other tangible forces. We are consumers after all. We spend. We give. We buy. We love to save. We’ll spend twice as much to save a little. With six fewer days to Christmas this season than last year following Thanksgiving, it could be that shoppers will get in a frenzy and prove they are confident after all, especially when it comes to getting Johnny and Suzie the gift they’ve been asking for all year.
We wanted to know just how confident our readers were about shopping this holiday season, so we asked, as we often do, on our online poll, which can be found at www.timeswv.com.
Last week, we asked our readers, “How would you describe how much you plan to spend on Christmas shopping this year?” And here is what you had to say:
• Santa, baby — I’m getting great deals on Black Friday and will be shopping the sales all season — 3.7 percent.
• George Bailey — I always worry, but in the end the most important thing is time with family — 46.91 percent.
• Scrooge — Things have been tough this year so I’m paring down — 49.38 percent.
That’s what readers said last week. Time will tell, as the kickoff to be holiday shopping season begins in five short days. Or four, if you plan on shopping right after turkey.
And speaking of turkey, let’s talk about that this week. Many are upset that stores are staying open on the holiday this year, meaning employees can’t spend the day with their families. Where do you stand on the issue?
Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.
Well, Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
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