Just a couple of days after I wrote a column on the idiocy of Black Friday middle-of-the-night promotions and how much smarter it is to shop on line, I find out that on-line retailers are also jumping on the bandwagon. Because of the incredible mess that the little Bush has made of the economy, retailers are expecting their worst year in the last five years. Personally, I think 2007 will underperform against even those lowered expectations.
The economy has been allowed to run down; the current administration has sent much of our money overseas paying for wars that the people do not want. The dollar has been steadily losing value for six or seven years. The mortgage foreclosure rate is still rising. We have more to worry about than yet another overly commercialized Christmas season. Still, everybody has a right to make a buck. It should be interesting to see how deeply reputable on-line merchandisers are willing to cut their already low prices.
It may be, of course, that cheaper prices are not the only answer. Customer service still goes a long way in the on-line world. There are a number of Web retailers that do that very well. Site usability becomes even more important when things are tight, as does the use of product photos. Log on to newegg and look at how many pictures there are of most of their products.
But, in the end, nothing helps sales like a big sale. Lower prices pack people in, and that may be as true on the Web as it is down at the local shopping center. I personally feel that it will be fun to watch, and I plan on watching closely. Things never work exactly the same way in the virtual world as they do in the brick and mortar world. Every experiment teaches us something.
The best news is this: if I have to line up at the newegg site at five o’clock in the morning for a special price, I can at least do it in the comfort of my home office.