In the sea of the economy, consumers are the hungry fish found prowling shoals in search of prey. They feed on minute invertebrates who labor to survive, but the fish themselves are also hunted.
High above in their vessels, businesses lower hooks in hopes of snagging their quarry. They craft exquisite ads that flash and dance to entice a strike. One lure that has proven to attract time and again, the wriggling worm of advertisement, is the sale.
A sale is a temporary availability of product at a reduced price – at least that’s what it used to be – but now it’s so much less. Traditionally, a sale is held when a business wants to clear out excess inventory or promote a new product, but sales have become as meaningless as the products they endorse.
Much like special interest groups have harnessed the holiday, businesses now exploit the power of the sale by constantly advertising reduced prices. Whether hunting for a new vehicle, household appliance or simply shopping for groceries, we are assaulted with a barrage of special offers. In these times, it would seem downright foolish to pay full price when making any significant purchase. Special pricing is no longer special, it’s expected.
Customers now demand the exceptional, handicapping businesses who fail to advertise reduced pricing. This puts pressure on every business to participate, regardless of whether they have a legitimate sale. There are fields, now, endless fields of flags and banners that never come down. This saturation of exceptional discounts has devalued the concept of the sale, as with every cry its credibility is eroded. Signs proclaiming “BLOWOUT!” or “CLEARANCE!” are now as weightless as the balloons that adorn them.