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Fueled by News: Commercialization outshines holiday season

Joe Petro, Opinion Co-Editor
December 6, 2011

The holiday season has long been over-commercialized and centered around materialistic items, and this year, things only got worse.

The true value of giving to those who are less fortunate has taken a backseat to the newest and trendiest gifts that appear on our Christmas list. The tradition of volunteering and donating to the needy has been replaced by the new tradition of standing in endless lines trying to acquire that newly anticipated gift.

We can all empathize with having to do that last minute shopping for loved ones and being overwhelmed by crowded checkout lines and items on back order. However, retailers and department stores are eagerly anticipating the rush of revenue.

I asked Patricia Burke, 47, assistant manager at the Dickson City K-Mart, about how the store was preparing for Black Friday.

“We have already stocked the aisles with the new and most anticipated items for Christmas. K-Mart is most likely the best source for holiday shopping because we offer a layaway option for consumers.” Even while being interviewed, Burke was selling K-Mart’s layaway program.

Burke also said that K-Mart in recent years has stocked its shelves earlier and earlier to gain some extra revenue.

As the holiday season progresses, department stores and other retailers organize their stores with winter wonderland displays showcasing this season’s new hot-ticket items. Although the economy is in a devastating state, consumers push on in order to acquire presents for those they love.

And, when I say push, I mean literally push. A teenage girl was trampled at a WalMart in Michigan as shoppers plowed their way to the discounted electronic merchandise. And, a woman in Los Angeles even used pepper spray to fend off others going toward her coveted Xbox 360.

Retailers however, look at Black Friday–hence the name–as a life raft to keep them afloat in the upcoming year and so have opened earlier and taken even greater measures to lure shoppers to stampede in their stores.

Keith Fullner, 23, GameStop associate at the Wyoming Valley Mall, said, the holiday season is make or break for many retailers. “Christmas is to stores like St. Patrick’s Day is to local establishments in Scranton. We aim to cover our overhead by selling as much as we can as fast as we can,” said Fullner.

And, in this quest to make as much money as possible, stores heavily discount items, creating desire–and some might even argue–need for material possessions. Although it may be exciting to receive the newest and greatest gadget or toy, the message that giving is better than receiving may have been lost in the rush to give not just any gift, but the best or most expensive gift for half the cost.

As a community, we should focus our efforts on donating time to those in need and less on trivial presents we purchase. The message of giving is better than receiving is not limited to the novelties and presents we purchase in our local department store. Resist the urge to splurge.

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