Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wal-Mart, Macy’s Embrace “Christmas”

From USA Today:
Wal-Mart will put “Christmas” back into the holidays this year, the retailer plans to announce Thursday.

A year after religious and other groups boycotted retailers, including Wal-Mart (WMT), for downplaying Christmas, the world’s largest retail chain will have an in-your-face Christmas theme this year.

“We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson from last year,” says Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakley. “We’re not afraid to use the term ‘Merry Christmas.’ We’ll use it early, and we’ll use it often.”

Wal-Mart told about 7,000 associates of the plans at a conference last month and “was met with rapturous applause. ... We know many of our customers will feel the same,” says John Fleming, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president of marketing.

Fleming says the retailer, which recently lowered prices on toys and electronics, will be pitching Christmas almost as much as “value” to holiday shoppers.

New this year:

• A TV ad trumpeting Christmas will air for the first time next week. Wal-Mart also will air TV ads along with the Salvation Army mentioning Christmas.

• The name of the department with Christmas decorating needs will change from The Holiday Shop, which it was for the past several years, to The Christmas Shop.

• Store signs will count down the days until Christmas, and Christmas carols will be piped throughout the season.

• About 60% more merchandise will be labeled “Christmas” rather than “holiday” this year over last.

The Christmas spirit is spreading. Macy’s, the largest U.S. department store chain, plans to have “Merry Christmas” signs in all departments. All of Macy’s window displays will have Christmas themes. At New York’s Herald Square, the theme will be “Oh, Christmas Tree.”

“Our intention is to make every customer feel welcomed and appreciated, whether they celebrate Christmas or other holidays,” spokesman Jim Sluzewski says.

As at Wal-Mart, Macy’s employees are encouraged to consider wishing customers holiday greetings that are appropriate to their race or religion, including Happy Kwanzaa or Feliz Navidad.
Here is a Wal-Mart ad with a Christmas theme.

Wal-Mart PR guy Marshall Manson says “Wal-Mart will also be supporting the Salvation Army, as it always does, by making a contribution and inviting bell-ringers to its stores. (Remember, Target and others shoo them away.)”

We no longer view Wal-Mart as a reliable supporter of “red-state” family values. They have become a mega-corporation with the usual obsession about getting good public relations, and evading bad public relations.

They are, for example, happy to cozy up to the gay lobby when it serves their interests.

However, it’s good that they feel it prudent to placate Christians on this issue.

The War on Christmas has been the result of an unholy alliance between people hostile to Christianity and woolly-minded people who think they are promoting “inclusiveness.”

But you can’t be “inclusive” by stamping out Christmas. Attacking the beliefs and traditions of Christians is no better than attacking the beliefs and traditions of Muslims or Buddhists.

“Inclusiveness” is served, not by trying to neuter Christmas so that it has no Christian content (not even the name “Christmas”), but by whole-hearted recognition of other religious traditions.

Does the local Jewish community want to display a menorah to celebrate Chanukah? We are all for it. Indeed, we think it’s just fine to have the menorah on public property.

But we feel the same about a Nativity scene.

And indeed, last year, there was a White House menorah. Presumably, there will be again this year.

And a Christmas tree should be called a “Christmas tree.”


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