As I mentioned in my last entry, it seems that the official crazy shopping season started just as the kids were sorting the Snickers from the Smarties on Halloween.
Christmas is coming, and the season of acquisition has officially begun.
But, as we're reminded multiple times every day - by the media, the advertising, or maybe simply by checking our bank balance - times are hard.
So A+B doesn't always to add up to C.
Where are people coming up with all this money to buy all these things we all seem to so desperately need?
The short answer is obvious.
A whole lot of folks simply don't have the money they used to have.
And that's translating into numbers when it comes to sales. According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales projections for 2011 are holding at 4 percent, up from 2010's 3.5. This forecast (which excludes cars, gas and restaurants), is "cautiously optimistic", and "comes on the heels of seven consecutive months of retail sales growth and better than expected holiday sales."
But as I've mentioned before, challenging times bring out the creative in people.
Which might explain a few things.
That number doesn't take into account other thrift chains, garage sales, estate sales, craigslist, and most likely a myriad of other creative ways people tend to navigate through a tough economy.
Have you been to a mall during the day lately?
It's easy to find a place to park, unless you get caught in the net of a freaky-crazy sale.
Have you been to a Goodwill, an ARC or a local thrift store lately?
Sometimes it's not so easy to find a place to park. The aisles are becoming increasingly crowded with fancy-looking people.
It's true. The demo at a thrift store is often that of a Nordstrom or Macy's.
Because people who know brands, who understand quality, who get that there are treasures to be found, can do all kinds of shopping on the cheap.
Thrifting is catching on. Even during the holidays.
It's a KitchenAid Model KS-A mixer with more attachments than a master baker could use on a good day. I love the color. Kind of a mid-century yellow-green. If you do a bit of digging, you'll see this is a valuable bit of kitchen goodness.
My cost? 14.99 at a thrift store. This would have cost me hundreds of dollars if I'd have bought it at a retail store.
As I mentioned, any savvy shopper knows a good brand when they see it. Times may be tough, but good sense and a fistful of knowledge is tougher.
I had no idea when I bought this chair that it's a recliner, but it is. It's comfortable, very substantial, and it was made right here in America. And when I did a bit of research, I realized that, if I bought it new, it would have cost me almost a grand.
My cost? $10 at a yard sale.
I'm not sure how many folks want a lovely recliner under the tree this season, but that's not really the point.
The point is that people are getting it. They're beginning to understand that there's a usefulness, a true value in finding, using or giving priceless artifacts that are found on the cheap. The initial cost doesn't decrease the item's intrinsic worth or value. The item simply changes hands, and everyone gets what they want.
Thrifting is no longer an embarrassment. For some, it's a curiosity. For a fraction, it's an income. For others, it's a necessity. For a big chunk of people who used to think nothing of buying items at retail prices, spending time and money very generously at a mall is merely a memory.
According to the parking spaces and the numbers, a larger percentage of us has let the wild rumpus start. These folks have stepped out of the box.
And based on the information I've acquired, there are a whole bunch of people who are understanding the value of value.
I'm just looking for a place to park.