Christmas came early to sunny Perth today.
Well when I say Christmas, I should probably clarify. After all, it is only July and many of us are still trying to shed the weight gained from the last time we dived head first into the festive trough.
I’m not actually referring to any of the good bits of the most expensive day of the year. There were no presents being opened at 3am, no roast dinners on the go since 7am and no empty mince pies cases scattered across every surface in the house. The dog wasn’t subjected to wearing antlers and there was certainly no flopping in front of the TV while eating an entire box of chocolates – it’s a known fact that unless all Christmas bought confectionery is eaten in one sitting, it will almost certainly be stale by Boxing day.
No. The part of Christmas that crept up and bit me on the credit card today was the mind blowing, hive inducing stress of shopping.
Upon hearing that the Toy Sale of the year had started in Kmart this morning and the store was being stripped of all bargains with every passing minute, I found myself shoe-horning a very unreceptive toddler into his car seat and heading off with my wallet in tow. Now, I like to think I am a fairly organised person. I often start the great ‘stocking filler hunt’ months before and have everything wrapped up and ready to go by November. But buying ‘tree’ presents already? It seems like madness. The fact that I also voluntarily subjected myself to the crowds of manic mothers with prams, and the panic comes with trying to decide what our little angels will be wanting in 6 months time – now that is certifiable.
And the reason why so many people were bulk buying for Santa in July? That would be Layby. A concept that makes you buy and spend far more than you ever intended to. Items are then put to one side, paid off slowly throughout the year and collected in a few days before Christmas. The downside of Layby (as experienced by yours truly this morning) is that by the time you have your 3 tonnes of brightly coloured plastic and the 10 AA batteries that each item inevitably required, the Layby que has stretched all the way back around the store to the entrance.
Having already narrowly missed death, by what can only be described as a stampede of highly strung wildebeast, I was faced with two choices. Wait at least another hour with a strapped in and loudly protesting toddler who, like Hansel, had already left a trail of biscuit crumbs throughout the store. Or, head straight for the empty checkout and pay for the whole lot in one go. So defeating the very point in buying early, using Layby and spreading out the pain of the payment.
Seeing as I am already home and the said toys are now crammed into the shed (later to be somehow hoisted into the loft away from the very prying eyes of a 7 year old) I obviously went for the easy option. My flexible friend may not like me much anymore, but at least I am in the safety of my own home and avoided cultivating another wrinkle.
Layby is without a shadow of a doubt a very clever marketing ploy, used by stores to brainwash parents into buying presents early. But, to be fair, it is also a great way to spread the cost of an otherwise bank account draining time of the year.
But be warned. If you are going to shop on the first day of the sales and make the most of all the great discounts – leave your kids at home, take a stool and pack a picnic.