Viewpoint: Our solemn duty — shop ’til we drop

pg05-c-commercialChristmas-themed gift boxes line the shelves at a downtown Dollarama. Kristine Lee, Centretown NewsBah humbug — it’s that time of year again. 

No, not Christmas — a time when we’re supposed to reflect on days gone by and share precious moments with friends and family. This is also that time of year when we lose our minds and drop our gloves over big screen TVs, ugly sweaters and knick-knacks we’ll most likely forget by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around.

In many respects, it’s become a civic duty to immerse ourselves in the holidays and embrace the hysteria known as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day —heck, even Boxing Week. 

We’re drawn into shopping centres by bright lights and holiday displays. We’re enticed by offers of unbeatable savings — as if by spending money we’re somehow saving money — and we’re told that retailers, who “depend” upon our holiday generosity, will not survive the year if we don’t do our part and shop ’til we drop. 

Don’t believe me? Just wait.

If you haven’t seen them already, there’ll soon be a slew of news reports detailing the economic importance of holiday shopping — and implicitly (or explicitly) urging consumers to do their part for the greater good. In other words, to go out and buy something.

What you buy doesn’t matter, so long as you’re spending. 

Don’t need it? Who cares. Never going to use it? Doesn’t matter.

The only things we should think of as consumers — yes, don’t dare mention the word “budget” — are the cha-ching of the cash register, the sound a mouse makes when clicking “buy” and the smiles on retailers faces as they run to the bank and we flee to the poor house.

In 2015, holiday sales in Canada were “sluggish,” according to media reports.  Statistics Canada said the decline in sales was “widespread” and that 10 of 11 retail sectors saw monthly figures reduced by up to 3.5 per cent.

We obviously didn’t do our part.

The StatsCan report, released in February, laid blame for slow holiday spending squarely upon the shoulders on Mother Nature.

“Later snowfalls and unseasonably warm unseasonably warm weather in many parts of Canada may have contributed to lower seasonal purchases,” the report said. “Store types typically associated with holiday shopping registered weaker sales in December.”

Weak and feeble-minded as we are, Canadians were clearly blindsided by snow and warm weather — two things that don’t typically go together — and were thus incapable of making the annual pilgrimage to our local shopping centres. 

Online shopping aside, it was just too much for us. We desperately wanted to get out and pitch in to support the multi-national corporations that do so much for our society, but the weather just wouldn’t co-operate.

But fear not noble shoppers, there’s still a week left to make up for last year’s failures and perform our duty to Queen and company with honour and dignity.

Consulting firms Ernst & Young and Colliers International predict December holiday sales in Canada will increase by between 3.5 and 4.8 per cent when compared to last year — meaning Canadians are expected to spend as much as $2.1 billion more this holiday season.

If you feel you haven’t done enough to support the economy, and your primal instinct to support retailers in their time of need remains unsatisfied, there’s still time to do your bit before stores shutter their doors and another holiday season is behind us.

So pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get shopping —w retailers and your country will thank you.