Friday, December 2, 2011

Scrooge Goes Shopping

            I have a reputation for being Scrooge pre-ghosts during the Christmas season. I find Christmas to be extraordinarily stressful, and I would prefer to let it pass without notice. Cleaning, cooking, putting up a tree, and the number one stresser - shopping! make me nuts.

            Sometimes I have wondered if I’m the only person who feels that way. Wandering through crowded stores decked out in red and gold, blaring old Christmas music, and displaying signs that have festive messages such as “Have yourself a merry little holiday” definitely brings out the Grinch in me. I would rather be confronted by a poisonous cobra than to go to a mall in December.

            But you know what? I am not alone. A new study from the University of Oxford reports that the “merrier” the store, the less business it gets. People just like me, stressed out from the joys of Christmas, tend to flee festive stores without buying anything.

Nancy Puccinelli, Associate Fellow at the university’s Saïd Business School, explained the results of her research: “In the final days before Christmas many a shopper will be feeling the pressure of the holiday season – with gifts to buy and preparations to make – leading to undue stress. The extreme contrast between consumers’ negative feelings and the atmosphere in the store, be it festive decorations, Christmas music or overly enthusiastic staff, actually makes them feel worse and less willing to purchase.”

Yes! That’s exactly it! Now we have scientific proof that the stresses of preparing for Christmas make a person grumpy! So if you, like the Grinch, “hate Christmas, the whole Christmas season,” don’t worry. You have company, and lots of it. “Bah humbug!”

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