“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?” No. I’m not. In fact, I feel kind of played out by the entire Black Friday frenzy that started in August with the announcement of the supply snarls. People were ordering Xmas trees in July and booking their holiday cruises last March. Now we are stuck in a daily whiplash of no real discount sales. Everything is higher priced (bacon is as costly as caviar) and even Cyber Monday fell flat as consumers realized there are “no deals no more.” Boffo sales records just didn’t happen this year.
Hardcore shoppers were disappointed that Thanksgiving “doorbuster” days (91-inch TV sets for bargain rates) were over. I know people who treasured those 6 AM Target store line-ups, a real Thanksgiving ritual — bigger than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They relished slugging it out in aisles for a pair of $4 spandex leggings. Now the real slugfests are the “smash and grab” store break-ins. A day before Thanksgiving, everybody from Nordstrom’s to Gucci to Lululemon to CVS got hit. Talk about bargain shopping. Who knew shopping would become such a “blood sport?” So grab your hammer and have at it.
Now that Thanksgiving is over — so are the holidays. Everything is “sold out” or on “back order” or never existed. It feels like its downhill from here. The arrival of Omicron (which my journalist pal Lucian Truscott says “sounds like a robot from a Transformers film”) is now our global Xmas gift. Clearly, it’s a reminder that until the world gets the vaccine, we will have to stick to masks as facial band aids. Even the promise of the Merck and Pfizer pills fizzled with the news that those therapeutics only offer 65% immunity. So let’s learn to live with it all.
But back to the black belt of shopping. Sure, we all got out in November with our hefty savings and let it rip after two years of frustration and isolation. We were sick of our computer “click and send” buttons. It felt great being among the racks and aisles again. Brick and mortar stores celebrated on the crush of it all like the sports stadiums did. They didn’t need a “store experience” with perks. The crowds were enough.
And who cared there were only 20% to 30% discounts and less stock. Retail was hoping we would fall for the fake “Happy Days are Here Again KA-CHING” message.
And maybe they can take it into 2022. But consumers are already disappointed with the lack of “deals” and marked inflation. It doesn’t look like mall walking with armloads of shopping bags will be the look anymore. In fact, as of January, consumer professionals are predicting a giant wake-up call. Just the look of one post-holiday credit card balance will be enough to give us a long-term hangover. Not to mention the ugly reality of “debt.”
But the beat goes on. Almost two weeks after Thanksgiving my computer is still “dinging” with announcements of extended (non-sale) sales; “run, don’t walk,” “hurry, make it happen,” “get up and go for this latest offer,” “don’t wait, there’s more,” or “time is running out!” TIME IS RUNNING OUT!! So is my life — and how insulting at only 25% off! How could any of this be an economic “recovery rebound.” Doorbusters and 2019 spending may be a thing of the past but going for broke is seriously here to stay.
I decided to get in the swing a week before thanksgiving by going to my local Scottsdale “luxe” mall — Fashion Square. It was recently renovated ($100 million) to include Louis Vuitton, Prada, Nobu, and lots of Vegas/Dubai glitz of marble and gold. All competed at a time when malls were disintegrating cross country. They still are, but Fashion Square has introduced high-end apartments and office space and so people are “flocking.” Even the Assistant VP of Macerich Property Management Christina Lanoue said, “Good malls are not dying, bad malls are. This is a good mall … the best address is Scottsdale.” Time will tell.
I hadn’t been to Fashion Square in three years and dumped out of mall walking as a form of time killing consumption. But I decided to try the first marble floor at 10 AM on a Tuesday. It lasted 40 minutes. I saw the velvet roped (“crowd control” barriers) entrances at Prada, Vuitton, Cartier, and Jimmy Choo. The lines hadn’t started. And it still looked like an airport to me. I guess all you need today are valet services and complicated sky lights to communicate high-end merchandising.
Unfortunately, halfway through my tour, everyone’s cell phone went off (mine too) in a deafening “amber alert” (abducted child) and I fled for the nearest exit thinking it was warning of a shooter loose at the mall. At least it gave me a great excuse to get out of that luxury consuming hell.
My mall outing made me think twice about the act of shopping, which I used to love and looked forward to. Now with the masks, more expensive and less exciting merchandise, less help, and little customer service — the thrill is gone!!
Instead, I returned to my home and once again to my own shopping outlet: my computer. I ended up going to my favorite site (to recover and recharge) printfresh.com — “Handcrafted pajamas and sleepwear for pattern lovers.” Founded in 2017 by textile designer Amy Voloshin, it is a wildly successful site. Printfresh’s collection of sleepwear (robes, nightshirts, long and short style for women and men) is designed in Philadelphia and produced by socially and environmentally conscious vendors in India. The sustainable cotton fabric is sensational, but the prints are really unique. I get why they are so popular with social media influencers. This is no Hugh Hefner’s pajama set, or Oprah’s lounge cliché of cashmere robes, matching readers and a candle.
Personally, I am a pajama addict. I have them all from London’s Claridge’s Hotel silk set at $300 to Victoria’s Secret’s polyester florals. But Printfresh is my favorite because of their fit and real pant pockets — decent stretch waistlines — and the price point is $145. I now have a real Printfresh collection since I joined their Dream Makers Club which lets you know of their hot off the press prints (kind of like a Harry and David’s “Fruit of the Month.”)
Also, their customer service is the best I have experienced online as they get back to you in minutes and it is with a real person. The truth is, their packaging is worth the sale — the pajamas come in a great cotton printed bag with a personal postcard and I dare you to buy just one pair.
Sure, Printfresh was part of the pandemic home explosion, but they are so much better. Forget the sad prairie “nap” dresses, baggy sweatpants and sloppy t-shirts being the last word in Zoom Covid couture. Printfresh made me rethink the idea of luxury. Luxe used to be about the expensive, rare, and exclusive. Luxury is now all about comfort and feeling good, i.e. my ability to breathe and get a laugh out of a print. Imagine, I can now get it all from a pair of pajamas! Who could ask for anything more?
And while we’re at it, I also rethought the concept of “Black Friday.” I think it’s time to reboot the whole concept — but Not for some kind of “woke” messaging. Actually, this year it should have been called “Black and Blue” Friday.
Now that message IS inclusive and appropriate.