I’ve worked in the retail biz in a part-time and a…it’s my whole job capacity – since 1998. So I know a thing or two about last minute shoppers! You’ll never find a more wretched hive of desperate shopping than a department store on Christmas Eve!
Let’s talk about Black Thursday/Friday shoppers for a brief second, shall we? They are the ones brandishing store fliers and ads, they are the ones who know what they want – and what stores in which to get it. And they know which coupons will maximize their money saving experience and how to abuse those coupons to their maximum benefit (even if they don’t bother reading the coupon’s fine print involving exclusions, etc). They may not (and most likely will not) understand how rebates work, but they will, without a doubt – find SOMETHING to buy on this massive shopping weekend – whether they need it – or not. The Black Thursday/Friday shoppers tend to know what they want and where to find it. They are driven and motivated individuals, try to stay out of their way as much as possible.
Now let’s talk about a different creature altogether – and that’s the “Last Minute Shopper.” They don’t know what they want…don’t know exactly where they want to go to find it, and are (usually) willing to throw whatever money (or credit limits) they have available to spend to make their “gift problem” go away. I shall never, ever forget working at a perfume counter at a department store on Christmas Eve in 2003 (which was the only day out of the year when there was a line there) when I had a clueless male shopper approach me and without as much as saying so directly, ask me…”What can I buy my woman for Christmas?”
He had quite a long line behind him. I didn’t want to take TOO much time with him and hold up the line of desperate men behind him, so I pointed out the very last $90 bottle of Chanel #5 to him.
I would not appreciate a gift of fragrance for Christmas! But maybe some women do like to mask their odors with other scents? How the Hell would I know? I had a boss who wore this stuff so heavily poured on I dreamed about calling the EPA!
“I’ll take it,” the desperate sap told me. Sale! Too bad I wasn’t working on commission! Did whatever woman he was thinking of actually WANT a bottle of Chanel # 5? Probably not. But…not my problem! I kept my line moving. Maybe my next “victim” would buy the last Estee Lauder fragrance on the shelf. Maybe Christian Dior. But I will never, EVER forget selling the last $90 bottle bottle of Chanel #5. Not ever…
The “Last Minute Shoppers” are usually…but not always…men. They are the ones who wander in on Christmas Eve with cash in hand or credit limits available – to solve whatever gift dilemmas are vexing them. They tend to – but not always – wander toward the perfume/makeup counters and jewelry counters hoping that they can throw some cash at their “gift problems” with vain hopes that some savvy sales clerk will make their “problems” go away with the action of a magic wand. “Last Minute Shoppers” are usually (but not always) easy to please. They want to hand off their money and be on their merry ways. If only female customers could be so easy to please!
Or perhaps the “Last Minute Shoppers” will wander into the lingerie department. Beware, beware of the clueless males who venture into this area. Chances are they do not know what sizes they need to buy. Maybe they’ll run into a size 5X department manager, whom will look them straight in the eye and say…”Tell me the truth – is she bigger – or smaller – than I am?”
I actually had a size 5X manager who said she was going to say this to clueless customers. This still sticks out in my mind as hilarious to this day.
I’m not going to pretend I know what men need to buy for their respective honeys. Every honey is different. Some of them may want shiny baubles, some of them may want sparkly scarves, some of them may want sexy lingerie, some of them may want secluded cabin trips in Cheboygan, MI or a nice collection of colored pens – or maybe they want a nice new Sherpani handbag. I know I want a new Sherpani handbag! But my husband didn’t get a bonus from his company this year (hangs head in despair).
Try to know your audience…
Good luck to all of you clueless shoppers on Christmas Eve!