Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Thanksgiving retail retrospective.

As I mentioned in one of my last entries, I've eliminated the magical television box from my house ( But I do watch a few shows on my computer, and I do see my share of ads.

Recently, I saw my first holiday pitch of the season. Sears is apparently having a huge Holiday sale soon, and many things will be deeply discounted.

It's not even Thanksgiving, and retailers have already begun to feed us a generous helping of Christmas food.

It seems that Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year.

But I've learned that's no big surprise.

This crazy consumerism started way back in 1939, when Roosevelt was president. Way back then, our country was in the midst of an economic depression. And there was World War II to think about.

Sound familiar?

But let's back up a bit.

Abraham Lincoln actually saved the date for Thanksgiving in a very official Thanksgiving Proclamation. He'd made official what George Washington had floated: that November 26 would be a day of "public thanksgiving and prayer" for this new, fantabulous nation we'd created.

Lincoln just made it official, in 1863.

Fast-forward 75 years. Now Roosevelt's in office. And, not unlike our current situation, things weren't looking good. The economy was in the tank, and there was that unsavory War to think about.

Folks were reluctant to spend.

But retailers seemed to have a bit of sway with FDR. They created something akin to a shopping lobbyist organization. A consortium of retailers convinced Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving up a week on the calendar. They thought that changing the date would compel people to let loose of some of their money. Reinvigorate the economy.

It's become somewhat of a trend.

And we seem to have moved the retailing yardstick as time has passed.

Now, we're fed a steady diet of consumerism weeks before we carve the Thanksgiving turkey.

Perhaps it's a reflection of the times.

Or maybe we can tip our cap to FDR.

History seems to repeat itself, whether we know it or not.

Because desperate times call for desperate measures.

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