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The shopping culture
By Sumayah
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 08:28 AM

Okay so today is America's National Independence Day, the 4th of July, and I work in retail. As such I am going in to work today just like any other day. I made this complaining post on my Facebook this morning:

Dear Consumerism and Greed,

Without you I might actually get the day off. And I know closing an hour early is quite the concession on your part, but it's not quite good enough.

No love,
Sumayah


And it got me thinking about the shopping/privilege culture that has developed. As I work in the mall, our store is bound by the by-laws of the mall - we signed a contract and have to be open in accordance with mall hours. At what point did National Holiday = Shopping and Sales? If you are privileged enough to work a "normal" job and you get the day off to spend with your family and friends, what gives you the right to force other people to work so you can shop?

I realize that the economy also factors in to this scenario, that these national holiday spark big promotional sales and that drives revenue and profit, but at what cost? I know companies like Chick-Fil-A are closed on Sunday's and Christmas/Thanksgiving to give the workers time to be with their family. Is it really such an inconvenience that we can't get a chicken sandwich on Sunday? Should other business start to follow a similar practice where a day is set aside to be closed to allow workers a chance to be with family and friends?

Maybe I'm just grumpy that I'm the one who has to work, (and no time and half) but it seems that consumerism is getting out of hand. Thoughts?

39 Replies to The shopping culture

re: The shopping culture
By reel_faerie85member has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 08:34 AM
I long for the days when shops were closed all day sunday and half day wednesday. Some little villages still do this. The fish and chip shops are mostly still closed Mondays.

I just don't understand what it is that people really need? The shops are open 9-5 most days, some places open earlier and close later, are there really things that you are so desperate for that you can't wait a day?

As for the sales, I hate them:
1. There is never anything really decent in the sales.
2. If its something you really need then you would save up for it.
3. Things are never as cheap or as much of a bargain as you think. My Mum always says "its only a bargain if you need it"

Eugh.

I do feel for you working bank holidays. We don't get a choice in hospital but then I guess people can't decide when they want to be sick.
re: The shopping culture
By Sumayah
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 08:50 AM
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2011-07-04 09:16:53
I can appreciate the need for law enforcement and medical emergency services to be on call and available and would expect them to be duly compensated for their services. No one *needs* a new grill or dvd on a national holiday.
re: The shopping culture
By MarlaSingermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 08:54 AM
I was having a similar rant about this due to the fact that Mark has to go in to the electronics store where he works today, thus preventing us from actually spending the holiday TOGETHER. I believe what I said was, "Get a life, Americans! Why don't you try spending your day off WITH YOUR FAMILIES instead of running out to see what kind of deal you can get on a flat-screen TV?!" And I'm sure there are going to be all kinds of people who will be offended by that because they don't have family living close by, or they don't get along with their family, yada yada yada. But seriously? Even so, you can think of NOTHING better to do with a day off from work than to spend money on crap you probably don't even need? I could understand if he worked at, say, a supermarket or a drugstore, but there is not a single item in his store that could be considered an essential household item.

I also got extremely angry about this when his store REFUSED to close in the middle of a very bad, very dangerous ice storm, because "Walmart wasn't closed." Walmart DOES sell essential household items, you idiots! NOT THE SAME THING. They have also recently adopted a policy wherein, even if the store is officially closed for the night, if there is a customer walking up to the store, and there are still employees in the store, EVEN IF IT'S A HALF HOUR AFTER CLOSING TIME, they have to stay to serve this customer, this douchecanoe customer who didn't have enough consideration for the fact that people have lives outside of work to come to the store during the hours they're actually open.

But, you know, it's a vicious cycle. The people who run the stores think, "Well, if people are willing to come in and shop, we should stay open," and everyone else thinks, "Well, if the stores are open, I might as well go shop." And from a business perspective, I'm sure it makes sense to stay open on holidays. I'm sure they've crunched the numbers and figured out that the money they'd lose by closing makes it worth it to piss off a few employees (and their families) and stay open. It's capitalism at work, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
re: The shopping culture
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 08:59 AM
I had to run to the mall today because I ran out of mascara...in my defense I was moving and I lost a lot of things.

With that being said, I could live without mascara for a day. I could have gone in yesterday to get it, or tomorrow to get it. I think it is unfortunate the retail people have to work on Holidays. Are you at least getting paid overtime for that?

My guy is a cop, and he has to work on Holidays. Sometimes people without immediate families cover for each other, and work their shift. My guy doesn't have a wife or kids, so he tends to trade with the officers that have children at home.
re: The shopping culture
By Anon1234567890member has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 09:34 AM
I have to laugh at ho busy supermarkets are on Christmas Eve - everybody in the world throws away a tonne of food over the Christmas period, it's the same date every year, and the shops are only shut for one day. It's usually people bulk-buying non-Christmassy items as well like bread and milk. Honestly?

I think it's a little different in Britain because we don't have a national day - all our Bank Holidays are pretty random and I don't know why we get half of them. Why Mayday? What is Whitsun? Why late summer? So people here just treat a bank holiday as a long weekend and continue doing things they would normally do on a weekend - like shopping.

When I worked in shops I didn't mind working bank holidays because it mean time and a half or double pay, and the opening hours were reduced too so it was less of a big deal. When I worked in bars I LOVED working Easter and Christmas, NYE - any bank holiday really. People are very free and easy with tips on bank holidays! However, that's me talking as a 16-21 year old. If I was an adult with a full-time job in retail or hospitality, plus kids etc, I'd probably feel differently.
re: The shopping culture
By Sumayah
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 09:45 AM
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2011-07-04 09:46:30
jazz_lover wrote:

Are you at least getting paid overtime for that?


No. No time and a half. But that's an argument for my boss, not for consumerism in general. Right now my frustration is toward the shopping mentality as a whole. I'd understand being open if this was a day when people could finally have the time to purchase luxury items. However that's so not the case. Most stores, the mall included, have regular hours here 10am-9pm, and even the store that close early close by 7pm or 8pm. It's not like when 5pm hits everything closes down so if you work a 8-5 job you have no chance to shop. There's plenty of time. Even our local grocery store is open 5am-1am daily and some mega stores like Walmart are open 24/7.

I also think because these days off have become such big shopping event days, the actual purpose of the holiday is lost. In US, how many people actually comprehend the gravity of Memorial Day? Most people think Memorial Day = SALE! Not Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who honorably served for the country. I think it demeans the holiday to have a massive blow out sale.

It must be profitable, I get that, otherwise paying for electricity, water, employees, mall security, janitorial, wouldn't be worth the exchange of losing one day of sales to make rent. And if losing a day to make rent is an issue then the mall needs to prorate the few days it closes. The mall is closed on Christmas (shocking) but stores still pay rent for that day even though they have no control as to whether they will open or close. I also know there are a lot of bank holidays that business don't need to close for. However I don't find it unreasonable to ask people to not shop on say (for the US anyway) Memorial Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. That's four days out of an entire year. Surely the cost of lost business isn't so great that it would seriously impact the finances of business if all business closed for that day. But greed kicks in and someone thinks well I could make a profit today if I weren't closed and the shopping mentality kicks in and someone thinks, I wish I could go spend the next five hours browsing at the mall with no thought at all towards *why* they have the day off in the first place.

/rant
re: The shopping culture
By kandykanePremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:06 AM
Weren't Blue Laws repealed on the grounds that they were unconstitutional? Because the laws were enforcing religious standards by restricting shopping on Sundays? Although many places of business, such as liquor stores still are closed on Sundays in my state and the businesses that are open have shorter hours.

What about separation of church and state and all that? It's a fine line. Being concerned about employees is far different than being forced to close on Sundays and holidays due to laws.

As far as holidays are concerned, many holidays are religious observances that have been turned into secular events celebrated by activities like shopping. If a business wants to close on holidays, I'm all for it. I rarely shop on holidays anyway. I only go on Sundays when I just have to. I remember when I was a kid and nothing was open on Sundays or holidays. We lived through it.

kk~
re: The shopping culture
By Munkensteinmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:09 AM
I'll admit to being at the mall yesterday and going to the food court for some lemonade from Chick-fil-a, only to find out they were closed because it was Sunday...yeah, I was annoyed. I don't live by a mall or a Chick-fil-a and Sunday just happened to be the day that I could make it to the mall to pick up what I needed/wanted. My full time Monday through Friday schedule makes it difficult sometimes to get places, so I'm commonly left with Saturday and Sunday to go wherever. Being a government job, I get certain holidays as off days, such as today...and I'm thankful for the places that are open today since I can actually make it to them.

On the flip side, the people I know who work in jobs like retail have a variable schedule and get to have weekdays off in exchange for working some weekend days...seems like a tradeoff, I guess. Retail wasn't for me...I worked in a Wal-mart and in a mall shop and didn't care for either. The work and the schedule wasn't something I wanted to stick with but I know people who love it.

Past all of that, I probably dislike this holiday more than most others due to the rudeness of people and their stupid fireworks...so I'm a Scrooge, heh.
re: The shopping culture
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:22 AM
Times are tough right now. Where I live people only shop sales. They wait to shop on days like today because they can't afford to shop for those items until the next big holiday sale. It is a smart consumer to wait for sales.

Also, many people find holiday shopping enjoyable and relaxing and no, they don't have lots of time to do it. I hardly ever shop, I never have the time. If I were to shop I would likely choose to do it on a holiday. And I won't feel one bit guilty for 'making' you work. No one made you go into retail. And if you rebut that mall jobs are the only kind of jobs available for young people then I will say that being young means paying your dues. You are not suffering when working at a mall on a holiday. That is not suffering. I don't feel one bit sorry for anyone who is fortunate enough to have a job in this economic climate. For most young people, working a retail job is a temporary thing while they work through school or those first years out of school. Again, paying dues. And for those people who do it year after year as a chosen job well, no one is making you do it.
re: The shopping culture
By Anon1234567890member has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:37 AM
^ I've got to agree with the first sentence but I'd actually expand on it. It's not just people who can't afford to buy high-value items - it's people who can afford to, but don't want to. Take furnishings - every single bank holiday here sees a DFS sale. Why would you buy a sofa at any other point in the year when you know, for a fact, that at next bank holiday you're going to get it at least half price? I'd quite happily sit on a cushion on the floor for a couple of months rather than buy straight away if it meant I was saving a couple of hundred pounds. Even if I had the couple of hundred pounds to spare! So yeah, if that means people have to work in order to sell me that sofa...
re: The shopping culture
By Summer
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:51 AM
Think about it for a second, though: if YOU had today off, would you want to go buy groceries or alcohol/go get an ice cream cone/go out to eat/go to a movie/etc??? So SOME people WILL have to work today to satisfy consumer demand, whichever way you slice it. It's not inherently BAD that people want to do business with these establishments on holidays. Might as well not whine about it, truthfully.

I know this is somewhat off-topic considering the thread is about consumerism and greed, but regarding being "forced to work" on a holiday? You're in good company. There are many people, myself included, who do not work in retail but are compelled to work on weekends and holidays (I work in a hospital, where people are ill 24/7, not just monday thru friday, 9-5.) I worked Easter morning/afternoon this year, Christmas Eve night last year, and I will most definitely work Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve nights this year. So bottom line: you don't like working weekends and holidays? Get an office job. Simple.
re: The shopping culture
By Sumayah
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:05 AM
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2011-07-04 11:13:01 added to include the post above
d4j wrote:

No one made you go into retail. And if you rebut that mall jobs are the only kind of jobs available for young people then I will say that being young means paying your dues. You are not suffering when working at a mall on a holiday. That is not suffering. I don't feel one bit sorry for anyone who is fortunate enough to have a job in this economic climate. For most young people, working a retail job is a temporary thing while they work through school or those first years out of school. Again, paying dues. And for those people who do it year after year as a chosen job well, no one is making you do it.


...

Wow, I'm incredibly insulted by that. Thanks for completely demeaning me and my attempts to keep my head above water. Trust me, I'm thankful to have a job at all. I realize that I'm 30-something and still working in retail because despite my best efforts, no one wants to hire an unqualified (on paper) person with no practical experience because for the past ten years I've been a dance instructor and worked retail to supplement. Trust me, I WELL aware that that's my own damn fault. I promise you, I've paid my freaking dues throughout the years and I also take full responsibility for the bills I've incurred from owning a house and a car and have any sort of belongings.

Munkenstein wrote:

On the flip side, the people I know who work in jobs like retail have a variable schedule and get to have weekdays off in exchange for working some weekend days...seems like a tradeoff, I guess.


Except I don't know a single person who working retail can pay all their bills without help from someone - a roommate, family, whoever - and typically that's just to afford part of an apartment and a car. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm the loser, but I work 40(+) in retail plus teach 11 hours a week and I'm just barely to keep up with the rising cost of living. Once again, I realize it's COMPLETELY my fault that I have those bills - I chose to own a home and a car and pets and things, and I work my butt off to be able to have them but typically that means that I occasionally get Sunday off. I can't make ends meet with strictly retail or strictly teaching. So I'm glad your friends obviously can and have days during the week off, my days off I'm working another job - but again that's MY choice to do so and it isn't what I'm complaining about in this thread. I'm annoyed that the way people celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence 235 years ago is by going to the mall and shopping. Nothing says I'm grateful to live in a country of freedoms like shopping. /end sarcasm

kandykane wrote:


What about separation of church and state and all that? It's a fine line. Being concerned about employees is far different than being forced to close on Sundays and holidays due to laws.


Of the four holidays I listed, the only religious one is Christmas since that seems to be one of the few days the nation does take off, regardless of the religious implication. If that's true, then we shouldn't take Christmas off either. I didn't even bother with New Year's or Labor Day or the other major holidays but I'll be glad to replace on for Christmas if it helps.

Summer wrote:

Might as well not whine about it, truthfully....So bottom line: you don't like working weekends and holidays? Get an office job. Simple.


Oh, right, I'll get on that straight away. I had no idea that sitting at home and idly waiting for someone to give me wasn't a productive means to get a better job. It's not like I don't send out a dozen resumes to office based jobs a week, I certainly don't sit and fill out applications and check the paper for ads. I'll just go get an office job.

And again, I chose to work retail, I chose to work weekends, I do so willingly. I'm not complaining about working weekends and most holidays. I'm talking about a few select holidays. And no, on Christmas when everything is closed I don't go out to eat or go to a movie, I actually spend time at home with my family and enjoy their company. So if the mall were closed today, I'd be bbqing with my family, or going to the lake with friends. I wouldn't be shopping.
re: The shopping culture
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:15 AM
Nothing says I'm grateful to live in a country of freedoms like shopping.


Actually, I really think it is a WONDERFUL way to celebrate the freedom we have in this country. Nothing is more wonderful than being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor, to be able to elevate your quality of life, to go and get the things that you want because you worked for them. So many people in the world don't have that simple thing. There is NOTHING wrong with buying things on a holiday.

And my point about young people having to work retail is not meant to be demeaning. I was just heading off the inevitable argument about some people having no choice. I'm glad you have a job and I understand that having ANY job is a great thing in these times. But you yourself are complaining about your work and you should be grateful you have a job.
re: The shopping culture
By Sumayah
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:22 AM
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2011-07-04 11:24:07 forgot the quote I was responding to
d4j wrote:

But you yourself are complaining about your work and you should be grateful you have a job.

Sumayah wrote:

Trust me, I'm thankful to have a job at all.


Being grateful for having employment doesn't mean I'm not allowed to complain about the rampant over-consumer driven environment we live in.
re: The shopping culture
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:25 AM
Edited by d4j (104724) on 2011-07-04 13:01:30 correction
Well, this isn't the complaint board, it's the debate board and so I'm debating you.
re: The shopping culture
By Sumayah
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:45 AM
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2011-07-04 11:46:03
True, and that's why I put it in debates. However, I'm using the fact that the mall and many other retail stores are open on the 4th of July and the fact that I'm working said holiday as an example of what I see as the effects of a larger problem. Y'all are getting hung up on the fact that I'm pissed off to be working on major holiday, but that's not the point, it was the catalyst for my thread, but not the point of it.

d4j wrote:

Actually, I really think it is a WONDERFUL way to celebrate the freedom we have in this country. Nothing is more wonderful than being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor, to be able to elevate your quality of life, to go and get the things that you want because you worked for them. So many people in the world don't have that simple thing. There is NOTHING wrong with buying things on a holiday.


I guess I just don't understand why people would chose to shop on a national holiday. I realize that not everyone has family nearby to celebrate with, or don't get along, or whatever, but if all stores were closed on certain holidays, people would deal. I know I'm in the minority, but I feel that we don't celebrate the holiday anymore. I'd have way more respect for the situation if everyone was just upfront about it. We're not celebrating the independence of our country, we're celebrating consumerism and using this day off to shop. Call it what it is - don't pretend that getting a sale on Memorial Day honors the brave men and women who fought for your country, it honors the all mighty dollar.
re: The shopping culture
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 01:06 PM
It TOTALLY honors our country and the men and women who fought for it. Don't you understand that the the freedom we have to decide for ourselves what we want to be when we grow up and then be self-sufficient from our work, to self-determine our future and our success is EXACTLY what they fight for? If I go out and buy a super-deluxe new grill at a blow-out 4th of July sale I am supporting that process, I'm celebrating my own personal success and that of everyone who is free to be successful.
re: The shopping culture
By kandykanePremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 01:25 PM
First of all, it's really not for anyone (least of all the government) to tell anyone else how to celebrate their holidays and Sundays. That's a BIG point of separation of church and state and the repeal of the Blue Laws.

Second, the economy is fueled by spending. The economy improves when people have more money to spend. And they spend it shopping. No, people should not go into debt for it, but that's really another topic. Buying keeps people working. People like you.

Third, I have six veterans in my immediate family and one active so the blanket statements about not respecting the military on holidays really do not apply to me and my family. We respect them everyday.

I can see it gets you worked up to have to be open on holidays and Sundays but doesn't staff usually take turns? That's the way it was when I worked retail. (Lol, but don't ask for a Saturday off! NOBODY got Saturday off!!) So not everyone always works Sundays and the same holidays? Unless you have been hired specifically to work only Sundays and holidays which, although rare, does happen.

kk~
re: The shopping culture
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 01:43 PM
Haha, my chief complaint about holidays is that everywhere closes early. The way I see it, there are undoubtedly employees in every store/movie theater/grocery store who hate their family enough to work instead :P
re: The shopping culture
By Munkensteinmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 01:46 PM
Except I don't know a single person who working retail can pay all their bills without help from someone - a roommate, family, whoever - and typically that's just to afford part of an apartment and a car. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm the loser, but I work 40(+) in retail plus teach 11 hours a week and I'm just barely to keep up with the rising cost of living. Once again, I realize it's COMPLETELY my fault that I have those bills - I chose to own a home and a car and pets and things, and I work my butt off to be able to have them but typically that means that I occasionally get Sunday off. I can't make ends meet with strictly retail or strictly teaching. So I'm glad your friends obviously can and have days during the week off, my days off I'm working another job - but again that's MY choice to do so and it isn't what I'm complaining about in this thread. I'm annoyed that the way people celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence 235 years ago is by going to the mall and shopping. Nothing says I'm grateful to live in a country of freedoms like shopping. /end sarcasm

I don't know what you're trying to get out of this thread at this point. Do you want an apology for the fact that some people can survive working retail jobs? You keep repeating how it's your choice to be in your situation so what more is there to say about that? You expressed frustration with your situation and people are going off of that to start the conversation. A comment about scheduling was the only thing you took from that post so that you could sound bitter while simultaneously reminding us that it's YOUR choice...so I don't know where you want this debate to go.

As for the direction you turned my comment, the people I know who work jobs like retail don't have houses, car payments, pets, or much else considered to be a "luxury." Many of them are trying to get different jobs but what they're doing is working for the time being, especially since we all know a bunch of unemployed people as well. I've also known people with those aforementioned office jobs who worked retail or fast food after leaving the office due to housing/car/shopping/etc decisions they made. These things go all different ways.

I suppose it IS nice to celebrate this holiday by exercising free speech and appreciating that we all have the freedom to make choices for ourselves. And if I want to go shopping on the 4th of July after busting my butt working for the military during the regular workweek, I'm glad to have that choice...military members are plenty respected by me and you know what's happening on many military installations today? Carnivals with mini-marathons, costume contests, fair food, vendors and other things that cause some workers to have to work today. The horror.
re: The shopping culture
By Cienmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 02:12 PM
Edited by CienPorCientoPAZ (147923) on 2011-07-04 14:17:37
I agree, Sumayah. And I don't understand the "I'm celebrating my freedoms!" argument for shopping like crazy on holidays. What freedom are you celebrating? The freedom to shop? Because we have that freedom just about ALL the time, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't make us totally powerless if we decided to maaaaybe take a few days off from the consumerism each year. There are other ways to "celebrate the fruits of your labor" than to go out and buy stuff you don't need. You're not honoring anyone, you're honoring your ability to spend money. Soldiers (Memorial Day) and the signers of the Declaration (today) didn't make the sacrifices they made so you could shop, they did it so you could celebrate freedoms that actually MEAN something. To say you can honor them by shopping is ridiculous.
re: The shopping culture (karma: 1)
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 02:13 PM
I wish everything was open 24 hours all the time.

I'm a night owl, so often when I want to go get something, the store is closed even though it's relatively early for me. Or say I'm on a 9-5 schedule... when I get off, I can't go shopping, unless it's the weekend and assuming the store doesn't have limited weekend hours.

I wasn't aware July 4th was a massive shopping holiday though. I thought it was more Black Friday, etc. This is the slow season for my store. I have to go into work now... I'm sick and not looking forward to it, but whatever.
re: The shopping culture
By Angelinamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 02:26 PM
I work in retail too, but on the head office of a big UK company. Let me tell you, we RELY on those public holidays to keep us in a job. I'm very concerned for my own job right now, it is tough out there in the market right now. We NEED our employees in stores selling, because if they weren't, we would all be out of a job. I spent a day at Christmas working in a store, and I really appreciate how hard it is, but... its what you signed up for, you know?
re: The shopping culture
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jul 04, 2011 02:30 PM
Shopping is a SYMBOL of freedom! Shopping in a free country means so much more than 'shopping' in say, North Korea.
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