I am still trying to digest the large Christmas Dinner that I enjoyed, and the presents received are still in a pile where they were left after being unwrapped. Ollie got new soft toys, and still can’t decide which one he likes best. The 26th is upon us, which in England is still known as Boxing Day. Although it is a Public Holiday, all of the shops will be open at some stage, as the post-Christmas sales begin. At one time, we only had ‘January Sales’. People would anticipate bargains to be had on the second of January, often queuing overnight outside big department stores. The clever shop owners would have loss-leaders featured in the windows. Televisions for a few pounds, or a half-price mink coat. The first through the doors would grab those bargains, and feel very pleased with themselves. But such once-a-year events are long behind us.
Now we have Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They are followed rapidly by Pre-Christmas sales, and immediately after by the Boxing Day sales. Before the shops close today, they will already be tempting buyers with previews of the New Year sales that start next week. As customers rush to buy things which are supposedly reduced by up to 50%, other less happy shoppers have to see huge reductions on things that they paid full price for on the 24th. Vouchers and cash received as presents yesterday will all be spent by the time it gets dark today. Having to endure a whole day with no shops open yesterday unleashes a buying frenzy once they are all trading again.
Logging onto my emails this morning, my Yahoo account was chock-full of sale offers from companies I have used online. Amazon suggesting things I have already bought, with the friendly comment “Buy them again?”. It never seems to occur to their computerised sales adviser that I am unlikely to buy exactly the same things that I ordered last week. Cookies provide fertile ground for companies I may have glanced at fleetingly, with obscure suggestions that I might like to buy some bags of gravel for the driveway, or rubber sealant for a cracked gutter. And let’s not forget the holiday companies. Holiday adverts traditionally begin on Christmas Day here, with TV advertising full of suggestions for exotic foreign holidays, cruises, villa rentals, or Disney trips. When the UK is in the grip of gloomy weather, and we are shivering in below-freezing temperatures, the sight of a tropical beach, or someone sipping drinks by a sun-soaked swimming pool is guaranteed to make you think about escaping the winter.
So, what I woke up thinking about today was this. How long will it be before most shops are open on Christmas Day? How long before companies just cannot bear to miss just that one day of trading? Most people no longer celebrate the religious aspects of the season, and I am convinced that many bored people would like nothing better than to get to the shopping malls on the 25th, instead of watching re-runs of old kid’s films after a heavy lunch. They could get an even earlier start on the sales, and the shops would save money by having to print ‘Boxing Day’ on their banners. I am also sure that many shop staff would welcome the extra pay from working on a public holiday, and anyone who is still religious would not be forced to work.
It will be a lot like Sunday shopping, which started as an experiment, with the reduced opening hours. At first, it felt strange to go shopping on a Sunday. Now, it is one of the busiest days of the week in most supermarkets. I always used to say that I would never see Christmas Day opening in my lifetime.
Now I’m not so sure.
What do you reckon? Say within five years?