Not Exactly A Quote That Inspires Hope For Retail Season

The New York Times took a first look at holiday sales and, while finding that it didn't suck as bad as last year for retailers, found someone to remind us that stores aren't the only ones deserving of concern.

"This is not the year for silly stuff," said Keith Browning, 50 of Columbus, Ohio. He lost his job at a Honda plant and struck out on his own. "My brother gave me a Wii video game. I'm definitely returning that. We need some new pots and pans for the house. And I need tools to get my company going."

Last year, I bought my parents a Wii for Christmas, then was laid off from a gig in Silicon Valley. Mum demanded that I return the machine, and when I told her the Amazon reseller wouldn't take it, she insisted I sell it and pocket the money, which I did.

So I can understand where this guy is coming from, with the "silly stuff" comment. We've heard plenty about video games being high-value diversions similar to what movie houses provided back in the Depression. But for some people, when you're not working - or not working enough - giving or playing games just doesn't feel right.

Browning's quote is the definition of anecdotal, but I'm wondering if it portends a shopping mindset that means bad things for games this year.

A Tentative Sparkle Enlivens Holiday Shopping [The New York Times]


Comments

    Some good points in this article. I don't think it's going to be a bad season for games sales (at least judging by the number of EB Games bags I saw last time I was shopping), but it probably will be a bit subdued.

    Console prices are at all time lows, but games themselves are starting to be more expensive. With companies like Activision testing out higher prices, and every second game coming with an expensive Collector's Edition, people are likely to be less inclined to spend money on games. Not to mention games like Guitar Hero, DJ Hero etc that cost huge amounts with their peripherals.

    If publishers can make high end CE versions of their games, why not offer a "light" version of the game with a disc in minimal packaging, and a link to a PDF of the manual? People will buy preowned copies of games for $5 less, why not do the same thing - sell it for $10 less and stop preowned sales at the same time.

    As for games being silly - absolutely they are. In the scheme of things, games unfortunately mean very little. However, when you're working a 14+ hour day, the downtime you spend with a game is absolutely invaluable. When you're not working, games can (and probably should) wait though.

    I understand the need for people to cut back on frivolities such as games and consoles etc, and games like DJ Hero CE which frankly costs almost $70+ more for a freaking table to hold the turntable it's obvious you'd rather use the money for necessities. I agree with you Matthew, people need to work, but even if they are working as hard as they possibly can, they need to have downtime, whether it be playing a game, reading a book etc or they'll work themselves too hard. Also on your point with a "light" version of the game, I'd rather see they cut out most CE editions since the swag that comes with the edition is practically worthless, and in-game content that gets packaged with it is more often than not re-released as DLC a few months down the track.

    I think it should just be judged on a person by person bases, it’s easy to say “well it’s the bad economy” Sure the economy has been bad, but not quite that bad, if someone is just getting by with the amount of money they make then they need to judge for themselves what stuff is now “Silly” for them to purchase.

    Perhaps a guy that works at a auto manufacturing plant isn’t exactly the most unbiased person to get a comment on about the state of the economy.

    Hmm, the global financial crisis must have done more damage to the world than I realised.

    With people having to trade in or sell consoles or games that they got for Christmas just to get by for the bare necessities, I can understand why someone would want to drop the gaming habit.

    Then again, we can set pitchforks on fire and go after that bastard who made that bank crash and burn.

      Yeah, it's done a lot of damage, but down here in Aus we've come out as a leader since we've actually techinically avoided recession. The manufacturing business has been hit the hardest, definitely.

      On your point, Andrew, you have to get an opinion from someone directly affected by the crisis. Sure you can be objective and describe it in stats, but each individual person has a situation that they have now because of the crisis, and I think going to the people and asking what happened to them is the right track.

    Here in Australia, we tend to underestimate the effects of the GFC, because we've weathered it better than just about any other first world country - America has ended up with around double the unemployment rate that we have here, and their economy lost a lot more value than ours did, so people's savings don't equate to what they used to. There are definitely a lot more families doing it tough this year than there were last year.

    But Americans also have a history of spending their way out of economic trouble, and those families relieved to still be comfortable might splash out on entertainment at Christmas and compensate, so we'll just have to see...

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