Monday, December 22, 2008


This weekend I was out doing the last of my Christmas shopping and heading out I was a bit concerned that it was going to be a disaster. First of all because we were in the middle of a snowstorm and secondly because it was the last Saturday prior to Christmas, the busiest shopping day of the year.

Part of these concerns were well-founded, as the roads were a mess, and while the places I went were crowded none was all that ridiculously busy. On the other hand I thought that all of the stores 'felt' really crowded.

But it wasn't really people. While there were people there, it wasn't a frenzy of people grabbing things off the shelves. Instead, after thinking about it a bit I decided it was the fact that they all insisted on having a million island displays in the middle of the aisles, piled with product. That made the paths through the store even more narrow, especially when filled with people, and made the store seem more crowded.

To some extent island displays are just a normal part of business, but this seemed even more prevalent then past years and I started to wonder whether it was actually a sign of something else: excess product. It seemed plausible that the real issue was the generally terrible sales figures for the holiday season which left merchandisers with piles of excess inventory.

Which then, for lack of a better place, ended up in the middle of the aisles. Admittedly very anecdotal evidence, but it certainly seemed to be consistent with how bad the sales numbers have been reported to be.

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