Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Doing Away with Christmas

With retailers trying to determine whether to say “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” or just “Have a nice day,” many people commenting on the news have said that in the name of political correctness we are “doing away with Christmas.” Still more have claimed that this will hurt the retail industry. After all, much of their profits are made when people purchase Christmas gifts for friends and family.

Yet their claims have no more foundation than the reasoning FDR gave for moving Thanksgiving one week sooner (to allow for an extra week of shopping after Thanksgiving and before Christmas), or than those who believe not conducting any transactions during the course of one particular day will defeat “consumerism” (Buy Nothing Day). The “extra week” is taken into account by buyers and sellers and has no effect, except to harm the calendar industry by making its already printed calendars obsolete. Proponents of the “Buy Nothing Day” forget that people have lots of buy nothing days throughout the year. Religious people often set aside a buy nothing day each week, usually falling on either a Saturday or Sunday. It doesn’t hurt the retail industry or defeat “consumerism.” People simply make their purchases on other days.

Retailers wouldn’t fall into bankruptcy if there were no Christmas. You and I would still be earning the same salary and would still exhibit the same budget constraints and endless wants. However, our expenditures would shift to different things. We might throw more lavish birthday parties and buy more expensive birthday presents. We might buy nicer things throughout the year, instead of setting aside money throughout the year to spend in December. There will be no discernible effect on retailers.

Merry Tuesday, everyone.

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