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We’ve had a couple of stories lately about retailers starting to do their holiday marketing and merchandising early this year, and we’ve expressed mixed emotions about it. On the one hand, October seems a little early to do Christmas shopping…but if it makes December a little more bearable, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.

MNB user Cindy Bertelson responded:

Being able to shop early and do a lot of it online is the biggest stress reliever I have ever experienced. There is just not enough time or money in the month of December to wait until then to do it all. I now am about 75% done by time December gets here and I love it. It allows to budget time and money...stretch that money, break it up in a 3 month spend to ease the 3 week spend in waiting until December. Last minute is not good on the budget.

MNB user Cleve Young chimed in:

I think you’re on to something with your comment on early Christmas shopping. While almost everyone grumbles about the early promotions, there is obviously a healthy amount of interest in it as earlier sales over the last few years show. There are sales opportunities here, but as usual, the best way to take advantage of it is to give the customer what they want. And what are the other major grumbles about the Christmas season? They are too hectic and commercial. So why not promote your earlier sales as an opportunity for customers to improve the quality of the Holiday times. “Buy now and spend the Holidays with your family and not in the store.”

Hmmm… serving your customers and improving the quality of their life. That doesn’t have to be incompatible with making money; it’s what makes a successful retailer.

Getting in on the debate about what the real nature of organic ought to be, one MNB user wrote:

And then there’s a whole group of us organic consumers that just want “organically grown” because it’s healthier, tastes better, keeps groundwaters cleaner, and it’s not important if it comes from a small or large farm, as long as toxic chemicals aren’t used in the process.

Local while not a “requirement” is a bonus, because it would most likely be fresher, and thus more nutrients retained – which also relates to “healthier, tastes better….”

We wrote yesterday about Tesco’s plans for the US, and noted: “One Tesco executive once told us that the company was looking forward to the ongoing battles with Wal-Mart, even in the US, because ‘wherever we’ve taken on Wal-Mart, we’ve always won.’

“We’re not sure how much Tesco executives know about baseball, but it sounds like they’ve adopted the old Mets slogan: ‘Ya gotta believe.’”

MNB user Mark Heckman responded:

To carry the Tesco/Wal-Mart baseball analogy further, Tesco has always had home field advantage when it won. It will be much harder for them to win “on the road” against Wal-Mart in the U.S., although they may “steal” a few victories along the way.

On the subject of Starbucks’ big expansion plans for China, MNB user Frank Gleeson wrote:

…Just returned from China in the last few weeks. Starbucks have big presence and appear to be doing the business.

No surprise there. Just a confirmation of what we all know and expect from Starbucks.

On the subject of Wal-Mart’s plan to upgrade its employee uniforms, MNB user David Livingston wrote:

Those tacky, baggy blue smocks with badges and pins dangling should be replaced. The current outfit has become the nation's symbol for underachievement. But Wal-Mart needs to do more than replace the uniform. They need to replace the worker with a more sophisticated, smarter, better looking, harder working employee. Similar to what is found at Costco or Trader Joes. But that’s not going to happen because Wal-Mart would never be willing to pay the wages required. Their model is to hire a warm body until they quit and then hire another. Honestly I don't think there are enough people in this country to fill the part-time needs of Wal Mart. It seems the biggest complaint I hear from Wal-Mart managers is the shortage of workers.

Speaking of Trader Joe's, my favorite shirt is a Trader Joe's employee shirt if bought on eBay. I get a lot of compliments on it wherever I go. People will often ask how I got the shirt and want to discuss shopping at Trader Joe's. I think that says a lot for their company when customers and competitors are proud to wear their outfit. I have a Wal-Mart shirt too, but I'm too embarrassed to wear it.

KC's View: