G’bye 2008!

December 31st, 2008


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.

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11 Responses to “G’bye 2008!”

  1. cw:

    in 09 i’ll probably buy 3 or 4 more craigslist cars (disposable cars, i call them), more clothes that will pile up on my closet floor, no groceries, and seven watches.

  2. tamra:

    100% agree with your comment: “I don’t think we’ll stop buying, but we’ll buy less at lower prices and with more consideration.”

    If the deals continue to be as great as the past 3 months, we could all be adding wonderful stylish items to our wardrobes for amazing deals! I’ll personally be on the lookout for high quality and classic, lasting items at a steal of a price. Likely walking away from ‘disposable fashion’ though in 2009…

    Happy new year!

  3. Fran:

    As a one and a half paycheck household we are always frugal and stay away from shopping just for the sake of shopping. We ARE planning to buy iPhones and at least one new computer in 2009, all valid expenses for our Wedding DJ business.

  4. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat:

    Like a lot of people, I am forgoing impulse buys in 2009, whether it’s clothes (not all that difficult), trying out new restaurants (somewhat difficult) or tech gadgets (very difficult). I am also looking to trim my food costs, so I am cooking a lot more and have resolved to bring home lunch at least 3X a week to work. Even signed up for some noncredit culinary classes at KCC to broaden my kitchen skills.

    When I do eat out, it will be at locally owned restaurants as much as possible. I hate to discriminate against locals who are working at chain restaurants (working as a prep cook at the Cheesecake Factory helped put me thru college on the mainland), but I feel I will help the local economy more by choosing to spend my dollars at place owned by residents. Similar to that, I am seeking out farmer’s markets for fruits and veggies. As a bonus, there are many, many hawt chicks at the KCC farmer’s market on Saturday mornings!

    Re: vacations. I plan to staycation. 1) you can find some dynamite deals on the Neighbor Islands 2) I feel better about putting my money in the local economy 3) it’s a chance to re-acquaint myself with Molokai and Maui (been to Kauai and the Big Island uku million times).

    And like you Nadine, I promise to bring positive vibes in 2009. Along those lines, while I am a fashion dolt I appreciate the time and energy you put into the blog and connecting with your audience.

  5. Pam Chambers:

    I will continue my Goodwill shopping. Two weeks ago, I found five items in great condition for a total of $35.00. Do I love the warped mirrors, littered linoleum floors, and misplaced sizes on the racks? No, but I love the hunt!

  6. Kate Schuette:

    Hey Nadine! I like your blog!

    As a college student, I’ve always been relegated to the sales racks. But this year I will definitely be avoiding Forever 21 and its merciless ability to lure me in with cheap trendiness.

    I just started stopping by the Goodwill in Kahaha (like Pam) and with a lot of searching, found a black tea dress with a tiny flower print that is perfect to cinch at the waist with a belt and pair with beat-up boots.

    This – http://www.garancedore.fr/en/2008/11/28/une-fille-un-style/ – girl in a grey T-shirt and black skirt is my style inspiration for 2009.

    See you around!

  7. ShoeSmitten:

    Spot on Nadine! I agree with Tamra, too: I’m looking for killer deals on items that will last more than a season or two. For shoes: peep-toed pumps, flats and strappy sandals are filling my wardrobe.

  8. ShoppingandInfo:

    I will be looking at more sale items and more classic pieces for 2009. Less disposable fashion. Everything will be about getting a great item – good quality, lasting piece, for a great price.

  9. stiletto:

    Hey Nadine! Yes, what you said! :-)

    If anything it will make shopping for quality stylish classic clothes at a bargain a challenge, and, for those of us who like a challenge, fun! (Expensive can be sort of the easy way out. Buy the name is the game and blah blah blah…) Except for those of us who have always shopped that way — trying to find good, chic clothes at affordable prices — with this economy now there’s more competition. So, no more second-guessing, i’m just snapping it up if it looks like a score. Happy 2 oh! oh! 9!

  10. Katlin:

    I am unfortunately one who gave into those 80% sales. But only at one place and for basics that I really do love… James Perse t-shirts at Tobi.com. They are a little pricey for my student budget, so I saw it as a good bargain for $20-30. And we really are a consuming society… I find it really hard to not only want to buy something, but to actually stop the want. I read so many blogs and window shop online all the time that it makes me want moremoremoremoremore. It kinda sickens me that I’m like this. That’s one thing I’m gonna work on in 2009, buy only what I need and love!

    And yes to the end of CEO greed!! That crap makes me so mad. I can’t see how they justify their lifestyle when their own workers are struggling to get by. I’m reading How Luxury Lost its Luster now and learning what not to do if I ever have my own company. :X

  11. Nadine Kam:

    Hi all,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    CW: My boyfriend does the same thing with cars, such that the “Chris car” has a value designation of $750, meaning that a Mac laptop computer would have a value of approximately 2 Chris cars.

    Tamra: I never liked the idea of disposable fashion anyway. I’m happy when I’m in the store, but when I bring things home and wear them, I feel yucky.

    Fran: Frugality is challenging but can be somewhat fun if you make a game of it.

    Ricky: It’s good to support local even if it often means paying a little more than shopping online. Thanks for reading even tho’, yeah, fashion’s not everybody’s thing.

    Pam: Hi, I know you have a lot of discipline and always come home with just the right thing, but while I’m divesting, I have to stay away from the thrifts. It’s always so cheap I come home with the weirdest, oddball stuff I would never dream of buying if I had to pay full price.

    Kate: Thanks for sharing the photo! My thought exactly, simple chic.

    ShoeSmitten, ShoppingandInfo and Stiletto: If everyone thinks classic, we’ll all be a lot better dress when this down cycle ends!

    Katlin: Yeah, it has to be about the love; not just the want and lust.

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