Santa, I want my money back
December is the time to kiss your money goodbye.
The holidays are a time to connect with your loved ones, be grateful that you survived fall semester, and shop until you get a message from your bank to inform you that your account is below the threshold amount.
December is the month for businesses to take advantage of our inner materialistic sides and encourage unnecessary spending that leads to overconsumption.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years are all periods for sales that fall in or around the month of December. These promotions are meant to encourage consumers to spend insane amounts of money on goods that they don’t need. They’re meant to convince us we’re exercising our own brilliant saving skills, not practicing overconsumption.
You might see these sales as an opportunity to save, but I’m here to inform you it’s a strategy.
Businesses, especially brick-and-mortar stores, are looking to end the year strong and take advantage of Christmas shoppers. So, they put big flashy posters outside stores that advertise the sales they have to offer and wait for the masses.
This strategy is further developed by physical stores that have been experiencing a decline in sales due to the rise of online shopping. So, December is an opportunity for physical stores to make up for losses they may have experienced during the rest of the year. Except they will be more particular about what they put on sale and hope that customers will purchase regular priced items—purchases justified by how much they saved on the sale items.
Maybe Scrooge wasn’t too far off when he said that Christmas is a holiday for businesses to financially gain.
“But hey! It was a good deal.”
Sure, I’m not going to criticize that statement because I love a good discount. And yes, I have been accused of being a little materialistic every so often. But we don’t need to lose our minds over shopping just because items are discounted.
Some might think that I’m just being a pessimist. These sales are an opportunity for consumers and their wallets to save some money! Especially with the inflation that has affected rent, gas, groceries, and the cost of living. It’s a great time to snatch up those pricey items you’ve had your eyes on for a while. That much I agree with.
However, once you start picking up other items because of the discount, promotion or just because, you’re losing yourself to the capitalist traps they have placed for your wallets.
Are you really saving money if you wouldn’t have considered buying it before that markdown?
Another issue that I briefly mentioned is the commercialization of holidays that are meant to hold special and significant cultural meaning. Christmas has grown from its origins to become a commercial holiday as well. So many people I know celebrate Christmas for the gift giving instead of the meaning. Whether you believe in the true meaning of Christmas or not, brands don’t care. They are going to create campaigns that pressure you into buying from their selection.
High-end brands want you to buy from them specifically, painting an image that their products are the best gift for the people in your life. You wouldn’t want to get the wrong gift, would you?
Brands are telling you “No, you don’t. Get the wrong gift and there are going to be some consequences buddy. What excuses do you have to save yourself with the sales we’re giving you?”
Aside from our own downfalls, hyper-consumerism also leads to (surprise, surprise) more issues in the climate. In Canada “post-holiday waste volumes […] [increase] by around 25 per cent from the end of November to New Year’s Day.” That’s significant growth in a two-month period.
So, next holiday shopping period I am asking that you think about what you’re going to buy and only buy what you’ve been eyeing for a while. Take it as an opportunity to do some healthy retail therapy, but not lose your mind and grab everything with a red price tag on it.
You deserve to treat yourself and save your bank account.