Shopping in malls, even window shopping, can provide you with a myriad of things to do, people to see and questions. Every year shoppers complain about how stores get ready well in advance for the next big holiday season or themed event.
At present, Halloween and Christmas are vying for top position across most retail shops. Santa Claus stares blankly across the aisle at the skeletons, witches and zombies that are taking up floor space. Halloween in Australia has grown considerably in the last 10 or so years. In Manly, the bayside suburb of Brisbane, families flock from all around to take part in the annual Halloween street party which includes the usual parade, rides, food stalls and of course costume judging. For those in love with Halloween, it is a great family friendly atmosphere in which to scare kids and show off the talents of the Special Effects makeup artists throughout the local area. One of the girls I have known since High School attends every year and it is always interesting to see just how much thought and preparation she has gone into, plus as a makeup artist, it is a great way for her to get some recognition for her talent.
Soon Halloween will be over and even more Christmas themed trinkets and decorations will line the aisles. Due to political correctness, many shops are refusing to label anything as Christmas. Christmas trees are now known simply as Pine Tree, Black Forest Tree and alike in the hopes of not offending anyone that doesn’t take part in Christmas celebrations. As Christmas Day draws closer and the shops swell with stressed shoppers trying to find the perfect ham for lunch or the perfect small gift for someone they feel obliged to buy for but don’t actually like, New Years banners and balloons will start to appear. Sparklers and silly hats will take the place of reindeer and snowmen.
Straight after New Years, when the confetti from the festive night is still littering the floor, Australia Day will be on retailers minds and the Aussie flag will start popping up on everything from stubby coolers and eskies to beach towels and barbeque aprons.
Before the snags have even cooled down to a consumable temperature on Australia Day, the shops will be stripped bare once more to make way for the day of love where everyone without a partner feels like sitting at home with a box of chocolates and a chick flick while guzzling wine and wondering where all the good men are. Those that happen to be in relationships (particularly those that have been in relationships for some time) will just be hoping for a quiet dinner and that their partner hasn’t bought them anything like crotchless panties. Naturally, with chocolate already being on the shelves, Easter is easier to welcome in. Fluffy chicks and bunnies peek out from behind boxes of chocolates stripped bare of the word Easter and the scent of hot crossed buns wafts from the bakery.
In a world where people are increasingly turning to online shopping for both convenience and privacy, the shops are having to do everything they can to bring us back in the doors. Shoppers walking around with smart phones in their hands, playing Pokemon Go in the mall are shocked when Santa Claus walks up to them to hand out a chocolate and have a photo with the kids. Adults, who until then were just looking forward to the break at the end of the year, start to hear the constant countdown of how many weeks til Christmas and start to panic about having the finances to pay for everything. I think it is at this time of year that some people, for the sake of saving a buck, consider having arguments with extended family so that they won’t have to purchase a gift. Kids start to scribble through the junk mail, figuring out Christmas wish lists and writing letters to santa (as someone who isn’t a parent, it is wonderful being tasked with the job of finding out what the kids want and have secretly told the jolly old dude in writing yet haven’t said a peep to the parents). Walking along the aisles in the toy sections I am always amazed at the toys that kids have these days. Geez that makes me feel old. The simple electronics toys of my adolescents (Tamagotchi) have been replaced by every kind of electronic toy that can be thought of and kids, as well as adults are now buying drones.
In a world where we attempt to teach kids that materialism isn’t as important as relationships and family, the message gets lost as soon as we visit the shops. We see frantic parents piling trolleys high and maxing out the credit card in the hopes that the kids will be happy with the presents they receive. Some, have a desire to give their kids a better life than what they themselves had. Freedom from the worry about scrimping and scraping, luncheon meats on sandwiches and hand me down clothes. These parents go out of their way to give the offspring every little thing that they desire and make a generation of brats who have never learnt the joys of playing the in yard with friends and constructing forts and tents out of the sheets strung up on the clothes line or between the sofa cushions.
Instead of shops helping us get into the spirit of the seasons, they are taking all the spirit out of the seasons by piling on boredom and stress before the festive days are near.