By Nadine Kam
Guy Kawasaki photo
The signs are the same wherever you go, so I’m sure Guy won’t mind if I borrow one off of his blog taken at Stanford Shopping Center the week after Christmas.
Yes, I’m afraid that this is one of the signs of the times. Like any addiction, I don’t think that our society can quit shopping cold turkey overnight. I still see people shopping out there, scooping up post-Christmas bargains, but for retailers, it’s probably nowhere near the amounts they’ve been accustomed to seeing over the past five years.
Those who cannot see beyond the sale signs must be ecstatic about signs reading 60 percent off, but that is short-sighted. Maybe they don’t see how interconnected we are as a society, and that as retailers’ fortunes go, so do our own. A lack of business will mean more will close (International Council of Shopping Centers is predicting that up to 73,000 retail establishments could close in the first half of 2009), more people will lose jobs, leaving fewer to support the businesses that remain — it’s a cycle just like the one that brought boom times here, but a vicious, downward one.
As a result, I am — cautiously spending. I feel lucky to still have a job and that my income hasn’t changed. But, like a lot of investors, I did lose a boatload of money in the stock market this year, which I feel compelled to replace, and the only way to do that now is the painful, old-fashioned way of saving. Which means, for now, going easy on the credit cards.
For me, it’s not that hard because I was never one to spend money I didn’t already have in the bank. But, it has meant rethinking the $300 to $600 dress, and post-Christmas, the only thing I’ve bought for myself was a black Rebecca Taylor jacket on sale at Neiman Marcus for about $190, to replace my ratty old Theory jacket. In past years, I usually picked up three to four things at the same sale.
I plan to acquire only two other things in January, a new season $69 A/X mini skirt and a navy J.Crew T-shirt. Simple and streamlined, which I think is a direction people are heading as they lose their appetite for consumption. Like I said, I don’t think we’ll stop buying, but we’ll buy less at lower prices and with more consideration.
Instead of buying the pieces above on the spot as I might have in the past, I actually went home first to think about how they would fit into my wardrobe. There were a few other things I considered but decided I can live without.
I noticed some designers are starting the process of bringing down prices by changing fabrication to soft cottons that have a cocoony, homespun comfort to them. I’m also seeing prices drop to 2006 levels that still had some connection to real incomes.
For 2009, I am hoping for an end to CEO greed and a return to realness all around. Real wages for people who work for the good of the economy and real pricing based on real quality and real integrity.
This is my last rant for 2008. I will try to be more cheerful in 2009.
If you have time, I would love hearing about what you’re buying and not buying and why.
What has changed is people have become more patient in waiting for bargains as they’ve noticed items lingering on the racks to the end of the season.
I still see people shopping out there, scooping up the post-Christmas bargains, but who knows how people will behave in 2009?
The most sensitive among us have lost their appetite for consumption.