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December 4, 2006
God Rest Ye Merry, Merchants

With my sister in town for the weekend, we decided to really tempt fate and risk our lives yesterday ... shopping at the Mall of America. Actually, we went to two different malls in an attempt to get all of our Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop, and we managed to live to tell the tale.

Popular culture makes Christmas shopping seem like one of the joys of the holidays, when in fact it seems like a bad reality show in which your credit cards try to vote you off the island. That's true for the employees as well. I chatted with a manager and a sales rep at a jewelry store when I bought the First Mate's gift (I'm no dummy!), and the manager told me that last year he had to work 320 hours in December. Now that he's the manager, he's being a nice guy and holding his employees to no more than 250 hours for the month.

If you're wondering why people get surly service in that last week, you have your explanation.

Normally, retail stores in malls might do as much as 30% of their business during the Thanksgiving-to-New Years Eve period. That's less true of the MOA, the nation's largest shopping mall. It's a shopping destination, and the people with whom I spoke at a couple of different locations told me that the Christmas season doesn't differentiate as much because of the shoppers who travel year-round to the Mall of America. December usually doubles their business -- which gives you an idea why locals tend to shop at other malls in the area all year long.

We spent seven hours yesterday at the malls, although the last 90 minutes was just for dinner. I don't watch football for seven hours. I can't think of anywhere I'd like to be for seven hours, especially not in crowds like we saw yesterday -- and those will only get worse until Christmas. Next year, I'll do more on line ... which is a pledge I recall making last year.

At the end of the evening, we wrapped up by wrapping the presents and watching Bad Santa, which my sister recommended as a way to recover from the shopping gauntlet. It was not a bad suggestion; it's a dark comedy with almost no socially redeeming virtues, and by the end of yesterday it was exactly what I needed. I'll listen to Christmas carols today in an attempt to recover from the case of the "bah humbugs" I contracted yesterday, a condition I believe might be contagious.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 4, 2006 5:13 AM

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