Cyber Monday, retail therapy off to roaring start

I pretty much loathe anything but essential shopping, but am glad to see now that it’s “Cyber Monday,” we are spending record amounts this holiday season.

Since the economy is based largely on mass consumption, this should be a good thing, no?

Well, yes and no.

Consider the source of these statistics when you read how things with the economy are improving.

Confidence is a state of mind—whether it’s personal confidence or confidence in the economy.

Most people still do not have significantly more disposable income than they had four years ago at the onset of the economic downturn. But confidence both personally and in all things related to the economy has lead consumers to break out the plastic once more.

Since most of the uptick in shopper totals is reported in surveys originating from the retail industry, you need to temper all of this good news by considering the source of the studies.

But, most folks are just plain tired of things being bad and getting worse. A renewed dose of retail therapy has never provided more balm for the shoe soles of the average American: let’s shop for new footwear! Am I suggesting we are pretending that things are better in order to help us believe and feel they are? That is a rhetorical question.

While checking out at the grocery store yesterday, the clerk asked if I had a good Thanksgiving. I said I did. She said we have a lot to be thankful for. I agreed that we did.

My takeaway from this pleasant interaction while I paid for my groceries was how difficult it must be for the average person to be content with what they have when they are constantly being blitzed with messages to the contrary; buy this, that or the other now, because you just will not be happy with your perfectly workable and functioning (albeit older) stuff any longer.

To me, although I am thankful for all I have, it makes me sad to know this.

I want, I want, I want!

I want not for I have all that I need and am happy with it.

It is no wonder many people experience sadness and depression during the holidays. The holidays themselves never live up to the hype. I know we should not buy into the commercials and advertising to the point that we equate our ability to be happy with owning shiny new things. But, for better or worse, that is how marketing works. The underlying message of all the commercials you see on television is that, you may think you are happy now, but you really will not be able to experience true joy this holiday season until you purchase this product.

Hey, it’s alright—you can put it on your plastic or finance it somehow with easy payments. I think that is another piece of the whole however you indulge materially will not provide for true happiness puzzle. It’s easy to buy up front, but then the bills come due. Will getting reminded that things are not really better with the economy come January be enough to keep you from engaging in the same purchasing equates to fulfillment behavior next year?

I didn’t think so. But hey, perception begets confidence and confidence is mercurial—some days we have it in abundance and some days we do not.

But, I will stay positive, go ahead and join you in drinking the Kool-Aid this holiday season. Please hold my hand, however, as when it begins to taste partly bitter going down in the beginning, I’ll be more confident the sweetness will return in the end.



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