By Whitney Sielaff

Shame on you if you're reading this column. Pick the ball back up, put that shoulder down, and get back in the store!

As Black Friday draws to a close, marked by tired feet, aching lower backs and waning powers of speech, Saturday and Sunday of the year's most important weekend spread out before us, like ripe fruit waiting to be plucked.

The battle for the consumer's budget has already been raging for several weeks. The big guys, both online and physical, recognized that the growing competition, thanks in large part to the Internet, would lead those seeking an unfair share of holiday spending to ramp up early.

Circulars, other print ads and broadcast ads have been vying for attention. Huge mailed pieces arrived in the Thanksgiving Day newspaper to follow up.

I was out, as the rest of my family and guests slept, at 6 this morning, ready to get the deals. You may have guessed, since I'm writing this at 9:45 p.m. on a holiday Friday, that I picked up some new computer equipment that wouldn't let me sleep until tried out.

So there I was, and here I am, off to a good start for Holiday 2006 Retail Season. I hope the barnstormers arrived at your locales, setting their scopes on diamond-encrusted circles, freshwater pearls and, might I be so bold, Journey pieces.

Anyway, if you are reading this, enough. Back to it. There will be time to sleep in January. Best luck and happy holiday retailing to you all!

To drop me a line on how you're doing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.