Now that you've been suitably iPodded, iPadded, Kindled, Nooked and have put the holiday season behind you, let me be the first to make a prediction for future holiday seasons: Some year soon at least one major retailer -- and probably more -- will be open on Christmas Day.
Yes, be very afraid.
And before you start calling me names and saying I'm nuts, let me explain two things: First, I hate the idea. I hate the idea of Walmart or Target or Macy's or anybody else being open for business on Christmas Day. It's a day that is sacred to those for whom it is sacred and even for those who simply appreciate the quiet and calm the winter day brings.
Second, I have a bit of a track record with these things. A year ago, with the help of some experts, I all but predicted the wide acceptance of ''showrooming," the trend in which consumers touch, price and play with products in brick and mortar stores and then go buy them online for the best price going.
OK, the practice is still evolving, but it was among the most talked-about trends of the past holiday shopping season and even Best Buy embraced showrooming, joining stores like Fry's, Walmart and Target, all of which adopted some form of online price matching. Anything that gets customers into the store, even a store threatened by the technique, is a good thing, Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly figured.
Now about Christmas. It's inevitable that cash registers will be ringing along with church bells for a host of reasons. I started thinking about this when I heard David Selinger, CEO of RichRelevance, a San Francisco outfit that analyzes online shopping trends, talking on TV. He was saying that Christmas Day is a surprisingly busy one when it comes to online shopping.
"It's a fundamentally different way that consumers are thinking about their interaction with commerce," Selinger said on NBC11's "Press: Here."
Fundamentally different, in that consumers are shopping online (including on Christmas Day) in growing numbers. Shopping on the Web is no longer considered exotic or, apparently, even anti-social. In fact, e-commerce has been fast merging with social networking, making for another way to interact with our many "friends," real and imagined.
While e-commerce spending on Christmas is still small compared to holiday shopping gorillas like Cyber Monday, it is growing at a rate that is 21/2 times faster than e-commerce in general, says Andrew Lipsman, a vice president with comScore, which tracks online shopping. The trend is mirroring e-commerce growth on Thanksgiving Day, which shot up 128 percent between 2006 and 2011, compared to a 51 percent increase for e-commerce in general.
"It had a really high growth rate," Lipsman says of Christmas Day sales, which were up 36 percent from last year. "Traditional holidays were when people used to just completely turn off. I guess what we are seeing is a trend."
The truth is we have become impatient and highly demanding consumers. If we thought we'd be getting a special something for Christmas and we don't get it, or if we amass a pile of gift cards, we don't want to wait a whole day to go to a store to make things right or cash in our plastic riches. We want to get things squared away now.
Online shopping on Christmas will do when there is no other choice. But no doubt some of those Web surfers would merrily descend on Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, Kohl's or, yes, Best Buy, to score that must-have, didn't-get gift. For some it would become a family tradition, complete with Santa hats and Christmas carols.
Granted, not everyone sees all this as inevitable.
"Oh, you're crazy," says C. Britt Beemer, CEO of America's Research Group, a Florida company that advises retailers. "Let me tell you, the push back from consumers and employees would be more than any retailer could stand."
Yes, opening on Christmas would be crass. It would invite charges of being anti-Christmas. It would be cruel to drag sales clerks and other employees away from family celebrations.
I mean, you'd have to go all the way back to November 2012 to find anything that so put the pursuit of profits ahead of everything else. You remember the rush of retailers who opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day, getting a jump on the feeding frenzy of Black Friday. But did the Black Thursday openings give retailers a black eye? Oh some traditionalists squawked. Others expressed sympathy for retail workers forced to leave Thanksgiving dinner to sell an Xbox or 10 or 20. But there was no major backlash.
In fact, one survey in the run-up to the holiday season found 17 percent of respondents saying they planned to shop on Thanksgiving. The National Retail Federation reported that nearly 25 percent of Black Friday weekend shoppers made it to the store on Thanksgiving Day. Hardly a stampede, but not exactly a boycott either.
A boycott. Now that's a thought. What if Macy's held a Christmas Day sale and nobody came?
I'll promise to stay home if you do. In fact, I'll promise to stay home in any case.