Saturday, December 27, 2008

Boxing Week 2008

It's Boxing Week. Well, all along, I thought that Boxing Day (day after Christmas) held some historical significance in terms of the sport called Boxing, and hence is celebrated as such! Only later did I learn that Boxing day is when Christmas presents are to be unopened and kept / exchanged / returned. The 'boxes' represent the 'Boxing day'. Simple? Oh yeah! This whole week is Boxing week. All malls, shopping places run deals, good deals. Loads of discounts, since this week traditionally invites shoppers in hordes! There have been stories about stampedes outside malls on Boxing day, that apparently even killed a store employee! Now, people spend a lot before Christmas. They spend to buy presents for everyone. And Boxing week is like a bonanza, more like a ritualistic shopping expedition, as a means to add cheer to the white holidays. Basically, Boxing week is like shopping week, in a greater part of the Western World.

This year though, the story has been slightly different. Given the economic slowdown, analysts, economists, retailers have all been speculating on how the mood would be this year. Given the fact that people need to spend in order to boost the economy, the economy watchdogs were actually 'watching'. They wanted to see where the consumer would go, whether he would head to the shop or whether he would hide money under the mattresses. To lure customers almost all major shops advertised 50 - 70% discounts. They advertised freebies, and what not! Just to make the consumer come out and spend.

This time, with loads of people being laid off, mounting debt, lack of free funds to spend coupled with a general sense of uncertainty over where the economy is heading and when the bear would hibernate giving way to the bull, people were not really in a mood to splurge. No stampedes at Wal-Mart, only marginal queues. To make the crowds look bigger, some cash registers were closed off. Many people said that they had exhausted their budgets buying Christmas presents and so, did not wish to spend more in Boxing week. Some were prudent to keep aside buying a much wanted item like a pair of shoes or a bag for Boxing week, just because of the favorable deals. But that's it. No splurge shopping. Some were restrained because they did not feel right shopping when so many people were being laid off or were facing the brunt of the economic slowdown. The only contrasting report however was about Amazon reporting 73 deals per second on day 2 of Boxing week. Heartening to know. But a conspiracy theorist inside me asks whether this was a media byte to boost consumer confidence.

While some actually took pains to go and buy something, some others chose to window shop, for sake of the ritual. So Boxing Day actually took on the significance I first thought it to hold - Boxing... Only this time, fighting the urge to splurge in favor of a bit of prudence......

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