'Tis the season! That phrase seems to start earlier each year. Black Friday no longer starts on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Retailers seem to creep earlier and earlier into the season: Wal-Mart starts a week early and K-Mart will open its doors at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving.
It doesn't stop there because shoppers admit to skipping Thanksgiving dinner (or maybe just rushing through it) to hit the sales. According to the Chicago Tribune, some even "chose not to travel to a relative's house in favor of shopping, according to the poll released by PromotionalCodes.com and conducted online by Harris Interactive."
You read that right -- people will forgo turkey dinners with all the trimmings, memories and family time for sales.
But is that culture reflecting retail, or vice versa? There may be a chance for a change if the right movement arises.
Instead of selling, and buying, and shoving Christmas' and Hanukah and Kwanza's retail rush into our already stuffed turkeys, let's counter it, and create #GiveThanksgivingBack.
Less sales, and more massive boost in awareness. A movement perhaps that's more giving, even measured for Wall Street. Instantly tally dollars GIVEN. Push the press to support it. Make it a YouTube-esque event.
And earn back consumers' warm love, not just cold cash.
We may sound like a Pollyanna (Pocohantas?), but there can be smart economics to this.
Years ago, we came up with a retail sales idea that actually started and ended with the well-known bell ringers of all our holly-days.
We set up area Salvation Army folk with instant-coupons for dollars off a specific fresh squeezed OJ -- a high-value offer, given just for donating.
What juiced it even more: when that coupon was used in-store, it triggered an additional donation to that charity.
So it was still a retail sales program -- and a damn good one -- but the emphasis was doubly on donating, giving back, and that felt far warmer in the refrigerator section.
Sure, Christmas et al. is about giving -- and the shopping is presumably to ensure kids, dads, relatives, loved ones get that latest, greatest trinket...at a great low price.
But maybe there's a way to ensure that the spirit, and awareness, the DAY before that black, Black Friday, becomes less about shopping and more about sharing, taking stock in all we already have, and giving back, giving thanks.
Perhaps it starts with:
•a world-wide digital effort to encourage people on that Thursday, and before, to share a note of thanks nationwide
•a 'million' dollar online wall, in which a million charities each get a dollar from various tie-in partners -- and consumers add the icing on top as they donate -- and streaming video as the online wall of charities is projected onto different buildings nationwide
•a retailer with a big easy button (you know who you are) uses it that day online to make it easy to donate -- even a portion of every purchase from that retailer
•a GiveThanksgivingBack logo that can be co-opted by any one, posted on their site, and it triggers an immediate donation to soup kitchens nationwide to help support dinners for everyone
•a Foursquare-like organization that donates on one's behalf for checking in at home at 8, 9 and 10 p.m. versus heading out to retail
Maybe with Movember coming to a close, we can try to create an even bigger, cultural movement, from Black Friday to Back Thursday. And turn back the tides of the early retail -- if not only for the associates sake who work the stores.
This holiday, maybe there's a chance to shift back from retail gifting to real giving. #GiveThanksgivingBack.
Just a thought, Cratchett.