Why do people buy so much for Christmas?
I guarantee that if you stand in any shopping centre car park today, you will see people pushing trolleys laden down with bread, milk toilet rolls and other essentials.
Nothing wrong with that? But they will have stocked up for a month at least. Who on earth is going to use ten loaves of bread in one day? Who is going to drink five gallons of milk? And is their cooking so bad that they are going to need twenty rolls of toilet paper in one day?
The shops are open on Christmas Eve. They will all be open again two days later, if not sooner. There are mini-markets in petrol stations that are open on Christmas Day. So why all this panic buying?
The last time I did my Christmas shopping in a supermarket, a few years ago, I swore I would never do it again.
I had to circle the car park for half an hour before getting a space.
Then I found that people were literally fighting to get trolleys. They were stalking shoppers as they came out of the shop and grabbing their trolleys virtually before they were empty.
Then I got inside. Oh God!
It took two hours of battling through jammed lanes. People with two trolleys each. The entire town seemed to be in there.
Then it came to checkout time.
Another hour and a half of queuing! I am not joking. The queues were literally the length of the shop. Staff were wandering up and down wearing Santy hats and handing out sweets to us to try to prevent a riot. I got to intimately know the price of every single item in the lane I was in.
And then of course, I had to fight to hold onto my trolley outside until I had unloaded it, as there were ten irate people trying to grab it off me.
So what is it all about?
They are buying enough food to last at least a month. Why? Why not just buy for a couple of days and come back after Christmas when the shops are quiet?
And of course there is The Drink. Crates of beer. I have seen one family loading their car with three trolley loads of beer.
I remember one year I was behind a woman who was of the Travelling persuasion. She had a trolley that was groaning under the weight of drink. Gallons of beer and crates of whiskey. There was a child buried under it somewhere. She got to the checkout and I had to laugh. I quote –
“Bless ya luv. I’ll pay for de drink, but could ya spare an old loaf a bread for de child?”
Now I do my shopping on the Internet. He’s due to deliver in a couple of hours. I had to book the delivery slot weeks ago. I ordered a bit more than usual, but that is because we have a bit of a houseful on Christmas Day. So there are a couple of extra cartons of milk, and a few cans of beer for the guests. And of course there is the turkey and ham. Apart from that it isn’t much more than a normal shop.
After all, the shops will all be open on Wednesday.