Monday, December 8, 2008

Shop, Baby, Shop

The press has a big story this holiday season, and it's all about how we aren't shopping. I don't need Slate or The New Yorker to tell me that the aisles of luxury retailers are empty; a look at my investment statements will tell me all I need to know about anyone's desire to purchase almost anything this Christmas. Nearly everyone I know has either declared a moratorium on gifts or has suddenly discovered the joys of crafts (I haven't researched this, but I would bet that knitting has become a rediscovered pastime). My experience the past few days tells me, though, that people are in fact shopping like crazy. They just aren't shopping at Bergdof's.

In search of a disposable yet presentable platter to take to a pot-luck, I visited two dollar stores on Saturday. The first store stocked no cheap platters of any kind, which didn't deter anyone but me: the place was mobbed. For some reason only one register was open, and the checkout line stretched, no exaggeration, the entire length of the store. This particular place isn't even a very good dollar store, in that very little actually costs a dollar and in that most of their stuff is so off-brand it's a little scary. I next went to my favorite dollar store, where things actually do cost a dollar and where the merchandise looks a little less questionable. Again, the place was mobbed; I got the last available space in the lot, and had to fight my way through the aisles to find my cheap platter and a plush toy for Brody to spend Christmas morning (or at least five minutes of it) disemboweling.

Another place people are shopping is the thrift store. A friend and I went to both thrift stores in town this morning, both of which were hopping. In my experience, the thrift store is always pretty crowded on Saturdays, but this was 10:30 on a Monday morning. Why wasn't everyone at work? Oh, right. Sorry.

What seems clear to me is that everyone wants to spend money, they just don't feel like they have much to spend. It's too bad those stimulus checks went out last May and June, because had they arrived last week, we might see a few more people buying a thing or two priced above, say, five bucks. I'm no economist, but I do know what I see. Americans are shopping. We're just not shopping at the retailers tracked by Wall Street and the media.

1 comment:

Sandy said...

Sure, now everyone is going to get all the good stuff at the thrift stores instead of buying their things in the malls and staying out of my way like they used to. This economy really does suck.