Monday, August 25, 2008

Another Report from the Economic Front

Brody ran through the woods Saturday and emerged looking like Julius Caesar, wearing a crown of brambles plastered around his head and to his ears, so I did something I don't ordinarily do: I went to the mall, to get a flea comb to help remove said brambles. School starts today or tomorrow all over the region, so I expected the mall to be crowded with kids and parents buying clothes and whatever. The place was crowded, but it didn't look like too many people were actually buying anything. Maybe the crowds were all there to steal vacuum cleaners.

When money's tight, puppies are probably down there on the bottom of a shopping list. The puppies at the mall pet store therefore tended to be much older than eight weeks, and to be on sale. It's never good to be a puppy in a pet store, but the present economic environment would seem to make it an even worse lot in life. Because the store happened to have a Brittany pup, I spent a few minutes visiting with him and finding out about his history. He's six months old, came from a puppy mill in Oklahoma, and had been shuttled around from store to store; this was his fourth pet store. I asked what happens to puppies they aren't able to sell, but the salesperson claimed not to know. I probably don't want to know the answer anyway. The Brittany was on sale for $399, with an additional $78 off Saturday afternoon.

So, no one was buying pets. While I was there, I thought I'd look for new pair of jeans. Jeans shopping is the bane of the American woman, or at least of this American woman, so it's important to follow through while an urge exists. I went to one of the department stores to check out the selection. The department store was essentially empty; the crowds were circling the mall itself, but not flowing into this particular store at all. I don't blame them, since all I found there were a bunch of Mom jeans. On to American Eagle.

This store was full of teenagers and their mothers pawing through the merchandise, but I was alone back in the dressing area. As crowded as was the store, I was also alone at the cash register, where I found that my jeans were not only on sale, but that I could get a second pair at half off. In other words, people weren't buying despite a pretty impressive sale.

I stopped at the Gap on my way out, just because everything in that store is perpetually marked down to ridiculous levels, and sure enough I found a nice blouse for $7.99. I also found an actual line at the cash register, three people ahead of me, all buying items marked down below ten bucks. Good news for the Gap, a company that has been battered in recent years: it was the only store making sales that afternoon. Bad news for the Gap: everything purchased was on clearance.

I've never been a retailer, but I do know that we are entering the crucial time of year for retailers, that mid-August through Christmas is the time when all the profit for the year is made. If Saturday was any indication, the last quarter of 08 is going to be a bumpy ride.

1 comment:

tunsie said...

It generally takes 5 or more years 4 a business 2 take off between re-investing and the mistakes u make in trying 2 get established and building a customer base,hopefully u don't make the same mistake twice.U probably don't see a real profit 4 a long time,so U live on the bare minimum.I cannot go 2 the pet store because I am in danger of buying all the doggies and taking them home with me.I wouldn't have the heart 2 leave the others after I bought one.I don't go shopping after i was accosted by another shopper.she grabbed the toy out my hand and said I SAW IT FIRST.I left the store and store security rushed out after me 2 retrieve me.when i went back in the store they had the women and the toy,and they said they watched me on camera
so if i wanted 2 buy the toy i was free 2 buy it.they also asked me if i wanted 2 press assaut charges against the woman that hit me.I said no 2 both.shopping is hazardous 2 your health.i luv u el tunsie.tunsie.tunsie