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Lords-A-Leaping Shortage Sparks Holiday Shopping Scare

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Sith lords a leapingNew York (AP) – Retailers are warning that a serious backlog of orders for lords-a-leaping and other high-demand Christmas goods is threatening the robustness of a crucial shopping season and caused a series of near-stampedes as dozens of would-be consumers rushed to retail outlets to obtain the coveted gift items. Several online merchants also reported server volume trouble that caused at least three major sites to crash.

Major brick-and-mortar retailers and online merchants began noticing early Friday that they were having trouble fulfilling orders for the perennial gift item, with some stores, such as Macy’s and Wal-Mart, placing placards at their entrances to inform customers of the shortage. Amazon.com and several other online sales hubs posted a notice to the effect that the unforeseen lack of available lords-a-leaping has driven prices up to unprecedented levels; the message displays when a user enters the product’s name into a search.

Although big-box retailer Kohl’s reported no disturbances in their physical stores, the company’s web site was down for over three hours on Saturday after more than three thousand users tried to find the product in under twelve seconds. A Nieman-Marcus in Paramus, New Jersey, became the site of a brawl between a schoolteacher and a social worker as the two fought over what appeared to be the last unsold set of lords-a-leaping in the entire Garden State Plaza Mall.

Lords-a-leaping are a trademark of the Austin Christmas Corporation, and they have been producing sets of ten lords for more than a century. Other manufacturers have tried to compete, but for more than eighty years the Austin version has seen unrivaled dominance, exerting almost total control of the world market for that and similar products: maids-a-milking, ladies dancing, and pipers piping, for example, are also Austin favorites, and are packaged in sets of eight, nine, and eleven, respectively. The company also has a strong share of the market in partridges mounted in pear trees, as well as swans.

An Austin spokesman said the company management was still unsure what accounted for the sudden shortage, saying that the number of lords-a-leaping produced his year was slightly in excess of the number of existing orders from retailers; the figure represented a modest increase over last year and the year before. He said the details are sketchy, but the most compelling explanation at the moment involves a rumor on a message board to the effect that the product would be unavailable after Monday December 2. The rumor was false, but the company was unable to muster the media response necessary to debunk it in time to forestall the stampede.


Written by Thag

December 1, 2013 at 6:58 pm

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