I had to take my father to hospital this morning for a minor procedure and then after attending a meeting for work, I had to go back and pick him up and take him home. On the way home he asked me to pull into his local shopping centre so he could pick up a script that he had been prescribed. As we drove into the car park, my dad asked me a question which I though had an obvious answer;
“Why are the shops so busy today?”
He was right. For a week day the shops were exceptionally busy, and there’s a good reason for that which has little to do with shopping for Easter goodies, although I expect the retail sector is benefiting from this coming festive season as well as the main reason for this.
We have school holidays at the moment in most states of Australia. Some schools finished up Term 1 on Friday 4th April whilst others finished up on Friday 11th April. And Tasmania, for some reason doesn’t finish up until this Thursday, the day before Good Friday. For all of the states, the first school holidays of the year run for two weeks with all of them swallowing the Easter long weekend at the tail end, in the middle or at the beginning of the break.
The car park had many families with school aged children in tow following their parents to the shop and then back to their cars at the end of the shopping expedition. This is natural. Even when we have the break between Terms 2 and Term 3, and once again between Term 3 and Term 4, the shops will also be packed.
It’s understandable that the school holidays at Easter and then again before Christmas result in the shops being packed, but as the middle two breaks happen in the colder months (halfway through Winter, and in the first few weeks of Spring) people tend not to go to the beach, but they flock to the shopping centres to hang out at the coffee shops and fast food outlets, cinemas, and bowling alleys or entertainment (video game) centres.
In addition to those older kids hanging out with their friends “at the mall” (to use an Americanism) and the younger children accompanying their mums and/or dads to the shops, there is also a steady stream of people that could best be described as in their reclining years; yes, the senior citizen or retiree if you prefer.
And it is the retirees who are clogging up the car parks during the school holidays. And it is about time someone said something about this…
There are 365 days in a year, 366 in a Leap Year. (I’m sure you didn’t just learn those facts by reading them just now). We have four school terms which are all (on average) 10 weeks long; one being 9 weeks this year in New South Wales, but two terms go slightly longer than 10 weeks so it balances out. So based on that, and from what I learned at school, 10 weeks multiplied by five days multiplied once again by four terms equals 200 days. Or for those who hate mathematics problems written in word form; 10 x 5 x 4 = 200.
The 165 days can be broken down like this;
- 104 days = weekends
- 52 days = school holidays
- 9 days = public holidays
I made a chart…
As you can see by the chart which I have based on a traffic light system (like the one I talked about last week), the school days make up the majority of the days in any given year; 55% to be exact.
Now if senior citizens, or more to the point, those who are retired can stick to going to the shops on those days that are less busy, the school days, that will leave the car parks free for busy parents who really don’t have time to stuff around looking for car parks with screaming kids in the back seat, to get the spots.
I have allowed in my proposal that retirees who are accompanied by children are allowed to shop during school holidays. It is only fair seeing that they might be looking after children while those kids’ parents are working.
I have also proposed that senior citizens stay away from the shops on weekends too. I understand that this might cause problems during those school holidays where there are two full weeks of holidays and weekends, and then the big one over Summer where we have almost six weeks where they would be forced to stay away.
I’m not a monster. I don’t expect people to go without bread, milk and other food staples, which is why I am going to suggest that seniors who take up this proposal to stay away from the shops will receive a refund on their delivery charge when ordering groceries online. This keeps people in jobs and keeps more cars off the road. This refund will be applied to their government pension.
But tax payers won’t be happy with that, I hear you say. Oh yes they will, because tax payers will be happy that when they want a car spot, they will get a car spot.
This is a win/win situation.
Now, for this to work I need you to share this with your retiree aged parents. Share it on Facebook or Twitter, send the link in an email, or print this out and post it to them via snail mail (you know a lot of them can’t use that computer thing…)
Let’s make this happen.
Disclaimer: This idea was broached back when I was doing my traineeship in Retail Management circa 1992. A few of my fellow store employees and I joked about how we could free up parking spots in the car park of the shopping centre where our store was once the Centre Management banned employees from parking in the main car park.