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Insane Discount Season

You probably saw this year’s reports of retailers’ pre-Thanksgiving bravado. “This holiday shopping season,” The New York Times declared breezily on Nov. 22, “America’s clothing stores are offering their customers something they have not seen in years: full price.” Unlike last year, or the year before that, or…well, you get the idea. Stores were going to take a brave stand. An end to panicked holiday season price-slashing! Right.

You probably saw this year’s reports of retailers’ pre-Thanksgiving bravado. “This holiday shopping season,” The New York Times declared breezily on Nov. 22, “America’s clothing stores are offering their customers something they have not seen in years: full price.” Unlike last year, or the year before that, or…well, you get the idea. Stores were going to take a brave stand. An end to panicked holiday season price-slashing!

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Right.

As we now know, Black Friday and the telling Thanksgiving weekend were more or less a bust, and store results for the month of November were mostly disappointing. Therefore, let the Insane Discount Season commence!

Yesterday alone, I received a half-dozen e-mails from some of my very favorite retailers offering me, a valued customer, big discounts on anything I wanted. Anything!

Territory Ahead generously offered me a 20%-off spree. Woolrich, up to 65%. J. Crew advised me to “give cashmere at 30% off.” Sears will sell me an American Tourister duffel bag, 50% off. And this just in from L.L. Bean: “double coupon dollars.” Wow!

I guess it’s time to go shopping now, huh?

Every Christmas, I give my grandmother the same thing: A Cheese-of-the-Month subscription from igourmet. My grandmother loves it, and because she is otherwise impossible to shop for, I will continue to give her this gift forever, probably. Two years ago around this time, igourmet sent me a postcard offering a 10% discount on anything I wanted. Four weeks before Christmas. That sounded pretty good. Last year, they sent it again. This year’s postcard arrived yesterday, and I promptly ordered my grandmother’s gift.

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That was easy.

For months I have planned to buy my wife a ______ from ________. Yesterday, the unnamed store sent me a note extending, yes, a 15% discount. On anything. Thank you so much.

So, what about that brave no-discount resolve of last week? “It’s a nice theory, but most retailers are very predictable,” Ronald Frasch, Bergdorf Goodman’s CEO, told the Times in that earlier piece. “They won’t have the confidence to back away from the volume these sales bring.”

No wonder November’s retail sales were disappointing. Anyone who buys anything before the Insane Discount Season begins is, well, insane.

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