William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

An early start to the “holiday” season

From the Wall Street Journal comes the headline: “Retailers Expect Gloomy Holiday.”

Problem is, I have read the entire article—these kinds of stories seem to appear earlier and earlier every year—but I could find no mention of what “holiday” they meant.

There are some clues. The writer, Jennifer Saranow, more than twice mentioned “consumers” and wondered how much money these creatures will spend on “the holiday.” I am not sure what a “consumer” is, but it doesn’t sound good, in fact it sounds scary, which makes me think this “holiday” can’t be a joyful one.

I’d therefore guess the holiday was Halloween, an event filled with frightening creatures, but the article specifically mentioned “consumer” spending in the months of November and December, so that’s out.

Well, like I said, these articles appear with regularity once the weather turns cooler up here in the Northern Hemisphere, so I think we’ll see more of them, some of which might give us more hints about this mysterious “holiday.”

13 Comments

  1. Briggs:
    I told myself to take my bat and ball home but posts like this are what make me keep reading.
    My guess is that the consumers are hatching out earlier in the season, thus proving that winter is getting longer not shorter and therefore calling into question the theory of anthropogenic global warming. That’s rigorous science that is.

  2. Briggs

    October 27, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Joy,

    Be careful with those bats. They can really hurt someone.

    And we’d miss you if you were gone.

  3. Joy:
    This year the retailers may find that those consumers who are hatching out belong to the Order Ephemeroptera, at least regarding their holiday spending.

    Also, please stay around. Your comments help to keep Mr. Briggs’ blog enlivened and on my daily must read list.

  4. I’m sure the soon-to-be-mandatory purchases of themed clothing and home decorations for the bigger ‘Welcome The Dear Leader’ party that is being planned for 1/20/09 in some quarters will boost the “holiday” receipts.

    Because really, what’s more important? The Messiah’s birth or His Inauguration? Budget accordingly.

  5. It’s quite obvious the author of this news piece simply forgot to “fill in the blanks” when she turned this canned article in to her copy editor. She was probably late to a latte appointment – or something – so we must excuse her forgetfulness.
    Briggs was spot on about “these kinds of stories seem to appear earlier and earlier every year” and that’s because they are simply reconstructed rewrites from previous year’s editions. Holds costs down, don’t you know. Remember, “there’s nothing new under the……etc.”

  6. Could it be Christmas?

  7. Thank you Briggs and Bruce,
    And yes, I believe you’re right, the Ephemeroptera can be seen crowding many a high street perfume counter and chocolate shop.
    However their male counterparts Romeoster RamboIsanoctapus can often bee seen later in the season, hatching around 24th of December when, after stopping at the drinking hole, they scurry around, braving the cold to gather brownie points from jewellery counters.

  8. Most of the retailers around here have already put out their stock of plastic ersatz conifers and ornamentation therefor, as well as the other acoutrements for the holiday that dare not speak its name, even before the tooth-decay festival with sanitized “evil” symbology. They don’t even have the decency anymore to wait for after the celebration of gastronomical overindulgence! It’s shocking, I tell you.

    Joy, please don’t take your bat and balls home on my account; I may need you at my back with that bat one day soon! I’d cover yours even if all I got was a pitchfork. You bring a refreshing and often surreal wit, but I wouldn’t take you to task if I didn’t take you seriously.

  9. Ah, but to mention which holiday may invoke the wrath of the anti-religiosity police. We may be assured that if the omitted reference was to an Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Libertarian or Rosicrucian holiday, the actual religion would have been named. Therefore, we may deduce that the unreference is to X (as in unknown) mas.

  10. Briggs: THE holiday is coming up. Dec 13. Naturally, it involves cookies.

  11. Briggs

    October 28, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Lucia,

    Name dropper.

  12. I believe the holiday they speak of is Festivus, and the airing of grievances is going to be particularly nasty this year.

  13. Thank you Sir Thomas, consider your back covered with the finest cricket bat. They don’t stand an earthly chance.

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