Following the news these days can be less than uplifting, to put it gently. Tracking COVID-19’s spread and its impact on the economy is tough stuff, and let’s not forget it’s election season, which means a relentless stream of political advertising that brings its own special brand of agita, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on.
Finding ways to escape these daily stresses and recharge the emotional batteries can be helpful, even necessary. I’m a reader, so occasionally curling up with a good book offers that respite. Other times it’s a movie, maybe a romantic comedy or, even better, a Frank Capra black-and-white classic about an underdog overcoming the odds, always a sure way to get uplifted and return to the fray ready to take on the challenges of the day.
Last weekend, of course, was Labor Day, or as it’s known in the furniture industry, “The Biggest Sale of the Year,” which offered its own special means of escape: advertising. Watching many of this year’s holiday weekend commercials, you would never know there was a pandemic, a recession, rampant product shortages or rising costs. Discounts were offered at anywhere from 25% to 80%, and financing was available with no interest practically to the turn of the next century.
There were lots of smiling, unmasked, often closely packed faces and the familiar featured selection of product deals: dining room, bedroom, sectionals, recliners and mattresses. Most featured familiar flash-cuts of mainstream offerings in each category, often with the “regular” prices slashed to reveal the big savings available. A few promised same- or next-day delivery or emphasized being “in-stock,” but otherwise it was difficult to distinguish this year’s ads from last year’s or even the year before.
What a welcome relief from the reality most consumers are living today. No worries about outfitting the home office to accommodate new work realities. No stress about finding a desk for little Johnnie or Jane to take their classes at home. What a relief not to have to think about how to create a better Zoom background so it doesn’t look like your calling from your closet. And, of course, there were no worries about the winter ahead when many may find themselves fashioning a theater at home to replace the ones they can’t visit comfortably in the current climate.
In Labor Day world, there are lots of red-white-and-blue deals, peppy music and payment terms so easy you’ve just got to buy right now.
There were some, of course, who didn’t get the memo; they ruined the vibe by mentioning shopping by appointment and cleaning regimens or focused on categories that acknowledged people’s current home furnishings challenges. One store even went so far as to thank first responders at the tail-end of its commercial and show a handful in their scrubs, a definite intrusion of reality in an otherwise blissful escape of rampant discount hunting.
Overall, however, there was no better escape from reality.