"Black December" got its name because in that month alone most retail chains will make enough money to go from red to black, that is, in accounting sense. It's only November now, but the store clerks in my neighborhood Target, Staples, and CompUsa have started to behave like their employment contracts depend on their performance in the next 50 days. Strolling among the aisles, one could feel their glaring stares. The good news is that they don't pounce on you any more.
I remember a time when these sales clerks worked on commissions and would smell bad from the sweats of anxiety while talking up a stream of nonsense, trying to get you to buy a 5-year warranty you really did not need. The attitude and the tactics have changed since then, because I suppose the management gurus have figured out that many shoppers, including this one, would do extensive research online before hitting the stores. Some shrewd shoppers do even more -- they get online for price comparison, then go to the stores to actually touch the products, but end up buying them online for convenience and free shipping.