Computerized Christmas? Ba…humbug!

Published 11:06 am Tuesday, November 28, 2017

If the current trend prevails, I may experience the end of traditional Christmas shopping before drawing life’s final breath.

As online shopping grows in popularity, the number of warm bodies filling stores and malls across America in advance of Dec. 25 is heading in the opposite direction.

At lunch on Black Friday (I was taking a break from work; not shopping), I read a story on CNN (online version, no less) that with a great economic outlook – especially with unemployment at its lowest in the past two decades – holiday shopping may break records.

The question is….where?

The story went on to cite a survey by the National Retail Federation, one finding that 59 percent of shoppers plan to purchase all their Christmas gifts online this year, marking the first time that online is the most popular choice for shoppers. And, for the first time ever, more people say they plan to shop online than in big box stores such as Walmart and Target.

A recent survey conducted by Elon University appears to back-up the National Retail Federation’s findings. According to the Elon poll, only 21 percent of people they interviewed said they plan to shop on Black Friday, compared to 35 percent who plan to shop (online) on Cyber Monday.

On Tuesday of last week, we placed a poll question on our website (, asking by what method do you make the majority of your Christmas gift purchases? As of late Friday afternoon, 60 percent of the respondents say they purchase holiday gifts online.

And Amazon, while it remains the top spot in online sales, has company. The CNN story said nine of the top 10 website retailers are companies that also operate “brick-and-mortar” stores.

The thing that frightens me the most is this online shopping craze is stealing the innocence of Christmastime. If young adults, many of whom are parents, are sitting at home behind a computer screen to purchase all their gifts, then won’t their kids miss out on the thrill of the season?

What’s next…..a hi-tech geek invents an online site that allows a child to sit in the lap of a digitally created Santa?

Call me old-fashion, but a portion of the joy of the Christmas season is experiencing the sights, sounds and smells first-hand.

There’s nothing that gets a child’s adrenaline pumping than to walk through aisles and aisles of toys….their eyes full of amazement at all the fun-filled gadgets they would love to see under the tree on Christmas morning.

What about a trip to a store or mall and hearing Christmas melodies being played on the PA system? Or, better yet, having a church choir or other musical group performing those heart-warming carols live.

Outside those stores, the sounds of clanging bells are heard as volunteers station themselves adjacent to Salvation Army kettles to accept donations. Will online shopping lead to the demise of that community-oriented group?

The enticing smell of freshly baked cookies, cinnamon sticks, and even the rich aroma of a freshly cut Christmas tree, standing tall and proud inside a store or a mall, floods my memory bank of Christmases past and present.

And, to think, there are those who rather sit at home in their underwear and shop online….thus missing out on one of the more intriguing parts of the holiday season and robbing their children of an opportunity to experience that thrill.

As for me, I’ll hop inside my trusty Ford Ranger pick up truck and make my way to a store or mall to do my Christmas gift shopping. And, as is tradition, I’ll choose to make my purchases here in the Roanoke-Chowan area, preferably at mom-and-pop stores in an effort to keep my money local. That helps our local businesses.


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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