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Merchants Struggle for Survival

This is from today’s New York Times. You can read the rest of the article by clicking HERE.

Published: November 27, 2008

Black Friday, long the Super Bowl of shopping, is at hand, but it may have become nearly irrelevant. Check out the deals that were already on offer earlier this week:

Diamond earrings at Macy’s were chopped to $249 from $700. A Marc Jacobs bag at Saks, originally $995, fell to $248.45. And for men, a Ted Baker suit at Lord & Taylor was selling not for the usual $895, but for $399.99.

Such crazy prices are a sign of the times, and analysts expect many more such deals during one of the toughest holiday seasons in decades.

Laden with excess inventory, hungry for sales and worried because of five fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, the nation’s retailers went into a price-cutting frenzy long before the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. For weeks, they have been trying to outdo one another to capture the attention of consumers who have become numb to run-of-the-mill discounts. As the latest T. J. Maxx slogan goes: “Every day is Black Friday.”

In fact, retailers have had so many early “doorbusters” — jaw-dropping deals usually reserved for Black Friday — that “it’s almost not necessary to get up at 5 in the morning,” said Bill Dreher, a senior retailing analyst with Deutsche Bank Securities.

But the retailers are just getting warmed up.

The Toys “R” Us chain is planning the deepest discounts in its history on Friday, with 50 percent more doorbusters than last year. Other retailers are promising that their deals will be even more striking than the sales they have already unveiled — with Wal-Mart, for instance, promising large flat-panel televisions for less than $400.

Such bargains are likely to set the tone for the shopping season to come.

“There’s no reason to suspect this will end,” said Dan de Grandpre, editor in chief of, which has been tracking Black Friday deals for about a decade. “This kind of heavy discounting will continue until we see some retailers start to fail, until they start to go out of business.”

Indeed, the intense competition could erode profits at many chains. Some retailing analysts even fear it could condition consumers to shop only when merchandise is deeply discounted.

Still, stores plan to pull out all the stops on Friday and through the weekend. After all, November and December sales make up 25 to 40 percent of many retailers’ annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry group. (The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday because it was, historically, the day that many retailers moved into the black, or became profitable for the year.)

The deals were laid out in circulars tucked into newspapers on Thanksgiving Day, on retailers’ Web sites and on sites dedicated to sales and shopping strategies, like and Many stores planned to open just after midnight Friday morning, and others — including Wal-Mart, Sears, Macy’s, Best Buy, Circuit City, Toys “R” Us and Old Navy — set their openings for 5 a.m. Target will open at 6 a.m. and BJ’s Wholesale Club at 7 a.m.

Read the entire article HERE.

November 28, 2008 Posted by | Financial Issues, Holiday, Living Conditions, Shopping | Leave a comment

Black Friday

Black Friday – the Friday after Thanksgiving – bargain hunters in the USA head to the stores. Some stores opened as early as midnight to attract bargain hunters. Many more open around 5 or 6 in the morning. Most have loss leaders – i.e. specially priced items, maybe even below cost – hoping people will come in looking for the bargains and buy something else.

Not me.

Not in a million years.

I did it one year; we had just come back to the US after living for years on Germany. I needed 110v Christmas lights, so I went to a store at 0530 and stood in line until it opened at 6 and got many packages . . . but not enough. Later in the day I went back to see if there were any of the bargain priced lights left, and there were stacks and stacks of them. I learned my lesson.

We also learned that many things go on sale a couple days before in some stores, or are still on sale and in good supply the following Monday.

I hate lines. I hate competitive shopping. I have seen women grab things out of one another’s hands, I have seen them race down the aisles . . . and I just ask myself “What is this all about?” I have that primitive instinct too, hunting down that elusive bargain, bagging it and getting it home – but at what cost?

Anomaly – while gas prices have dropped back to reasonable rates here, fewer Americans are traveling this year. Normally, Thanksgiving is the holiday with the highest accident rate of all the holidays because of the road traffic, but because Americans are holding tight to their purses this year, fewer are on the road or in the air.

We are packing up today and moving on to the next stop. We will stop and see good friends en route to our destination, have a meal and a good visit with them . . .

yes, yes, thank you, we had a truly wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving, a truly Southern Thanksgiving, with family, with friends, and I will share it with you as soon as I get a card-reader so I can upload to the computer. 🙂 There were three kinds of turkey – a deep fried turkey, a smoked turkey, and turkey breast pieces pan-fried in batter, like chicken nuggets only fresher, and tasty. My favorite was a big bucket of venison stew, one of the hunters had bagged a big buck up in Kentucky.

I don’t believe there was a steamed vegetable or un-sauced vegetable in sight! Lots of gelatins made with sour cream or cream cheese, macaroni and cheese, three or four different kinds of stuffings and sweet on sweet sweet potatoes . . . and then came dessert, oh my. The tables – separate stations for meats, stuffings, vegetables and salads – were groaning, but then again, there were many many people to feed. My Southern husband was in heaven, eating all the foods I don’t know how to make and never dreamed of making.

The very best part of Thankgiving was the visiting. It was like one great big diwaniyya, with people in the kitchen and living room, people way out back shucking oysters and peeling shrimp, loads of ice tea all made up, sweet, unsweet, Splenda, lemondade . . . young people playing football or running around. . . it was a very sweet family day, beautiful weather, you couldn’t order a nicer Thanksgiving, and we were so delighted to be included.

November 28, 2008 Posted by | Cold Drinks, Community, Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Food, Friends & Friendship, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Relationships, Thanksgiving, Travel | 2 Comments