*Warning: the following contains material that might upset some retailers
Luckily, for retailers, Christmas shopping has been strong. NZ even set a new record for transactions at 204 transactions per second, which is almost as good as the number of visits per second to The Standard, on a good day at peak time 😉
Spending on Boxing Day bargains was down this year but still strong. Apparently, people have become more particular in their spending but still want that buzz of a “curated experience”. Somehow, this involves the neck strain of continuously looking down on tiny screens of the latest models of so-called smart phones. My idea of a smart phone is a simple cheap and small device with unlimited battery life that can send and receive TXT messages and actual calls, no more, no less. These are almost as hard to find as second hand manual cars.
To me, shopping malls are some kind of dystopian world. There are generally (as in: always) too many people and with unruly kids running amok burning off pent-up energy after marathon sessions on a gaming device and a sugar rush thanks to a junk food infusion. Malls have their own controlled microclimate, in which they carefully control temperature and ambient light levels and block all sounds from the outside world, be it wind & rain, bird song, or traffic noise. It makes you feel that time passes slower. In the surreal world of shopping malls, you occasionally get a sensory overload from shops that have ghetto blasters on full – an introvert’s senses are very easily and quickly overloaded to breaking point. I bet shopping malls also control gravity to make you walk slower but your shopping trophies weigh less. They are cunning bastards and I would not put it passed them.
Of course, I cannot avoid shops altogether. So, once every fortnight I strap on my mental medieval knight armour (none of that modern Kevlar stab-proof shit) and mount my manual for doing the groceries at one of the local supermarkets. PAK’nSAVE is my favourite hunting ground. The battle plan is, as always, to time it well to avoid traffic, a parking lot with too many SUVs and people-movers driven by people who cannot park with unruly kids that run amok, too many shoppers and not enough trollies, and long queues. However, when it is too quiet, after the rush, the shelves are severely depleted by marauding shoppers and the restacking reserves have not yet arrived. The battle plan is always (!) foiled and defeated; timing is everything in life.
After years of careful observation I have seen a pattern, it could be apophenia, but I reckon that the shortest queue at the checkouts is almost never the fastest!? I tend to select one with a check-operator who does not look like she needs a break and a pay-rise, but let’s be fair, they all need a break and a pay-rise.
Grocery shopping is unavoidable unless you do it on-line and get it delivered at home. But this misses one crucial aspect, which is the curated experience of seeing other people. For this exact reason, I love to go out for a coffee – we all need coffee – or lunch or dinner once every blue moon. It is much better than opening Christmas gifts because there is the critical element of the unexpected and surprise. For example, what will be the Specials on the Blackboard? Watching and listening to other people, with neck strain, and the general hustle & bustle of a restaurant is what draws me there, time after time, and I never get enough of it. Good honest food and a few drinks are a bonus. Good company helps too. I think it is money well spent.
If you are so inclined and a good organiser, which I am not, you can instead put on a BBQ for the neighbours. Very enjoyable, especially when somebody else organises it, much cheaper than going to a restaurant – and no issues with getting breath-tested on the way home unless you take the ‘long way’ – and not too many unruly kids that run amok. Nevertheless, I prefer the adventure of venturing out of my safe bubble that is my comfort zone, occasionally, and the cat needs a break from me too, from time to time. When I come back home, I turn on my device and check out the weather report for the next day and what’s been happening on The Standard. Life is good. And feed the cat, of course, otherwise it runs amok.
When you spend your money, which you have earned by toiling all year, spend it wisely, on something that sparks joy, and which gives you a curated experience.