The recession hit most American business hard, in particular the real estate industry, but perhaps the second hardest hit was Big Retail. Retail sales growth was achingly slow over the past few years and this year is expected to be no different, in spite of a not terrible Black Friday that showed the corpse is only MOSTLY dead. This holiday season, in a push to improve sales numbers retailers won’t be pointlessly staffing up on retail sales staff. Instead, they are buying extra soldiers and the latest in weapons technology to guarantee shoppers will buy more this year.
Big Retail has always held a gun to our head to buy the latest Elmo doll, fluffy pink robe, or tool set every Christmas, but this year the stakes are higher as bankruptcies loom. Retailers aren’t willing to rely on the usual tactics of isolated violence and intimidation, emotional manipulation, and predatory pricing. They are bringing out the literal “big guns.” Several of the major national retail chains met at a Starbucks in Colorado over the summer to agree on and flesh out the details for the offensive. They passed a resolution to increase spending for “boots on the ground.” Recruitment offices were opened from coast to coast. One insider says Wal-Mart hired enough solders that every household in America could be paid one visit between now and December 25th. But no one thinks that will be necessary.
“It just simplifies things,” said James Bass, CEO of big box toy retailer Kids Korner. “It never made sense to make a product people wanted, or to lure them in with promotions or even with Santa Claus. All that was window dressing over the gun we held anyway. We tried giving people choices and look at the mess the economy is in!”
To pay for this mercenary buildup, stores have cut costs by dispensing with the usual glossy, Christmas catalogs replete with enticing goodies; Christmas decorations and extra customer service; and cinnamon-laced apple cider, gift wrapping, and other typical freebies. This year retailers acknowledge it was never about convincing people anyway since capitalism, i.e., free trade, is a vicious use of corporatist force inflicted on the poor and middle class. Instead, shoppers will receive simple invitations, randomly generated, telling each and every American what they must buy from the store by December 24th.