More NewsHappy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day

If you're reading this at your desk, you're working too hard. Enjoy your Labor Day: Fire up the grill, go to the beach, do whatever it takes to take a break. Because tomorrow's another day, and an important one. Lots will change in the coming months - in politics, in the markets, in the online marketplace. As Gore and Bush gear up for the contest that will determine their futures, e-tailers will be gearing up for a Christmas season that might just determine theirs.

If you’re reading this at your desk, you’re working too hard.

Because today is Labor Day, the last holiday of the “Summer Trinity.” (Memorial Day opens the season, and July 4 marks its height.) It’s the last chance to drive to work on fairly open roads; tomorrow I guarantee they’ll be jammed.

Labor Day is a little over 100 years old, a paler American version of the Left’s May Day, but hard-fought nonetheless. Given the prolabor settlement of the recent Verizon strike, not to mention the growing cynicism of dot-com workers, you might want to pay it more than the normal attention.

Tomorrow is another day, and an important one. September and October are usually very important months on the nation’s stock markets. Many companies are expecting a rally, but when long-term interest rates fall below short-term rates (as they did recently), recessions often follow. So many of us will start watching the ticker tomorrow, hoping for an all clear and fearing the next leg down.

Labor Day also begins the run-up to the crucial Christmas shopping season. Merchants don’t put out the candy canes tomorrow, but now is the time to set strategies, line up merchandise, and make sure fulfillment works. Many transaction processors also stop making changes to their networks around this time of the year, knowing that it’s more important that things work now than it is that they get better.

Consumer e-tailing has become very seasonal. Last year Shop.org estimated that $11 billion was spent online during the Christmas season, out of a total of $30 to $40 billion spent in online sales. The press played up the industry’s problems with fulfillment and returns.

Will the buyers return this year and, if so, when?

So many people and industries will learn their fate in the next few months. Bette Midler and Al Gore will both know their futures by November. Dozens of online companies will have been merged, saved, or destroyed by then as well.

For all these reasons, Labor Day has a feeling of New Year’s about it for me and always has. Where I grew up, school started right after Labor Day. (Here in the South my kids have been in class for two weeks already.) The languorous baseball season becomes the nail-biting pennant race, and the first ACLs are broken on the football field.

After Labor Day, in other words, life will become serious and earnest. We’ll wake up in darkness and keep working until the sun has gone down. It’s showtime.

This may be your last day to think about such questions at leisure, so get to it. Fire up the grill, swat a mosquito, get out of the office, and take your kids to the beach. I’ve spent the weekend challenging myself, preparing for the hard mental labor ahead with a little physical labor.

Do whatever suits you, and when you come back tomorrow, make sure you have your game face on.

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