Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Not even New Year's and one resolution is shot

I blinked. We bought a flat screen.

Retailers want so badly to get last minute Christmas shoppers into their stores that many have cut prices back to day-after-Thanksgiving levels. Our new TV cost about half of what we were expecting to pay before my job was eliminated in September.

We are not alone. Retailers across the country are reporting dismal traffic, cautious shoppers and really steep price cuts. They don't appear to know what, if anything will work.

But something is changing. I used to scratch my head during the dot-com bust and other recessions we've been through because the parking lots at Nordstrom's and similar upscale stores always seemed full, no matter what.

Now it's as if people are stretching money-saving shopping tips beyond the holidays. This emerging frugality isn't entirely about money. Former Kansas City resident Jennifer Maxwell wrote personally of other reasons for lightening up in a recent Baltimore Examiner op-ed piece.

Some personal finance bloggers I read, at My Open Wallet, My Two Dollars and Five Cent Nickel among others, recently are taking this a step further and talking of curbing Christmas shopping to increase charitable contributions instead. Selfishly, this is a potentially good idea for anyone strapped for cash, because the donations may mean bigger tax deductions too.

I don't know if these are trends yet or not. But when in 1890, Massachusetts department store owner James Edgar first put on a Santa suit to entertain customers and their children, no one knew if that would turn into anything either.

Happy holidays, everyone.

1 comment:

Ron said...

I'm tired of the talking heads implying that we consumers should feel guilty for not driving the economy. How about we start driving savings?