Spenders Jumping on the “Shopping is Patriotic” Bandwagon

November 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Economics

Black Friday always makes for an interesting study in consumer behavior.  In addition to the shocking news about the Walmart tragedy, commentary from the shoppers themselves is instructive.

Mr. ToughMoneyLove was listening to NPR today when a field reporter caught up with a Black Friday shopper waiting for a Best Buy to open at 4:00 AM. This particular shopper had been in line since 5:00 PM they before.  Explaining herself, she said that “she didn’t have much happening on Thanksgiving.”  I’m guessing that whatever she had going on, it involved closely studying the Black Friday sales fliers.

As the inteview continued, this extreme shopper further explained that she had been waiting for 9 hours because she wanted to complete the “electronics portion” of her Christmas shopping. I didn’t realize that “electronics” was a mandatory component of Christmas shopping. It’s not even mentioned in the 12 Days of Christmas. But Best Buy has other ideas. (So did Circuit City but that didn’t work out so well.)

Finally, the interviewer cut to the chase and asked this intrepid shopper whether such an overt sign of consumerism was appropriate in view of current economic conditions. The shopper responded without hesitation that “we need to keep shopping to save the economy.” Brilliant. The message from our government – resume shopping and use consumer credit if necessary – has found its mark. This patriotic shopper was ready to do her part. In fact, when the interview continued after the Best Buy opened, this shopper was found with over $2000 worth of goodies in her cart. 

Before you point out to me that consumer spending represents a high percentage of gross domestic product, let me say that I get that. Nevertheless, I submit that a disproportionate amount of that spending activity is by people who cannot afford it (“spenders”) and that too much of it occurs in discretionary spending categories.  (I can’t think of anything that you would buy at Best Buy at 4:00 AM on Black Friday that would qualify as a “necessity.”) 

I would like to see moderation of the credit-spend cycle as way to achieve sustained stability of our economy.   A return to our former spendthrift ways is not a long term solution to our problems, patriotic or otherwise.

Now for a quick review of the personal finance carnivals which featured some of my recent writing:

Carnival of Debt Reduction hosted by the Mighty Bargain Hunter.

Carnival of Money Stories #86 hosted by Funny About Money.

Carnival of Personal Finance #180 hosted by Living Almost Large.

Money Hacks Carnival #40 hosted by Steadfast Finances.

Investing Carnival hosted by Disciplined Investing.

Take a stroll through these carnivals for some excellent reading.

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6 Responses to “Spenders Jumping on the “Shopping is Patriotic” Bandwagon”
  1. Thanks for the mention, Mr. TML.

    LOL! My rant for this morning is about my abysmal failure to single-handedly bring down the world economy by staying away from the Black Friday sales. I guess this lady made up for my unpatriotic absence. Thank goodness SOMEONE is out there sacrificing herself and her family’s solvency to save the country!


  2. I love this! I just did a “Soapbox” article on my blog last week about people spending to keep up with everyone else. I wish people would realize that spending money they don’t have and buying things they do not need only binds them to their bills more. Thanks for your articles. I have linked your blog from mine…hope you don’t mind.

  3. Melanie says:

    Your article hit it on the nose!

  4. I am anxious to hear what the Black Friday sales numbers were this year compared to last. That should tell us something about whether our spenders have developed some self-control.

  5. Nivek says:

    I’m with you all the way. I have no problem with people Black Friday shopping but to think of it as patriotic is stupid. IN fact, IMO, mindless consumerism and failure to save is very economically unpatriotic.

  6. Pinyo says:

    I found the idea of waiting 10 hours to save a few dollars ridiculous. My time is worth a lot more than a few bucks.

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