Understanding the Last-Minute Christmas Shopper

I predict utter mayhem — even more so than usual – at the last-minute Christmas shopping scene this year. Certain insights I have into the mind of the last-minute shopper lead me to this prediction.
Here’s how (ahem, I’ve heard) the last minute shopper approaches the Christmas season. Sometime around Thanksgiving, he or she looks at the calendar and locks onto the last full weekend before Christmas day. The last-minuter then says to himself, “that’s when I need to finish my shopping by”.
Unfortunately, last-minute shoppers are not necessarily good shoppers. They’re not terribly efficient. They tend to wander a bit. They get easily distracted by things like TCBY stands at the Providence Place Mall. The result is that it takes them more time than they think it will to do their shopping. They can’t easily accomplish everything they need to in a single weekend.
Now, when Christmas falls on a Friday, the problem is not so bad. Shoppers unable to complete their missions on the last pre-Christmas weekend still have four days to spread themselves out over, so no one day of the final week before Christmas will be too bad.
It’s a little more difficult when Christmas falls on a Wednesday. Last minute shoppers have just two days of bonus time to pack themselves into.
But when Christmas falls on a Monday, there is no built-in margin for error, no last few weekdays to act as a safety valve. This means all of last minute shoppers, trying to do all of their shopping, for all of their friends and relatives, in just two days. The density of shoppers spikes. Madness rules the days.
In a marginally related announcement, my blogging will probably be light for the next day or two…

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Jon Scott
Jon Scott
17 years ago

I felt that I had to clarify for the readers that some of us actually are last minute by design.
My brother and I have a longstanding tradition of leaving all of our shopping for Christmas Eve day. The event rarely falls on a Sunday, as it does this season, but we will none-the-less endure.
My professional advice to all who engage in this kind of mission is to enjoy a lunch filled with tasty seasonal ales and celebrate success by procuring a gift for yourself each time you purchase three for others. Finish up with a fine cigar and a dram of single-malt, and reflect as you attend midnight mass or attempt to assemble large items using directions written only in Chinese.
On another note, as I don’t send out Christmas cards, let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and blessed New Year.

17 years ago

In a marginally related tip, Andrew, Providence Place Mall has both a Brookstone and a Sharper Image. So if you’re looking to minimize distractions, you may want to steer clear of it altogether.

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