January 9, 2009

Big discounts make me stand-offish. They seem desperate.

Maybe I seem too emotional, but spending is an emotional matter, and shoppers' emotions are important right now. I walked through Macy's today — the Madison Macy's — and there were huge discounts — 50 or 75% on racks and racks of clothes. And it looked so desperate. I need my clothes to play hard to get.

63 comments:

Maxine Weiss said...
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chuck b. said...

Seriously! I like my clothes to fit, look nice, and be cheap. Nice and cheap are tied for second place.

There's a funky Macy's near me that I like to shop at. Most Macyses tend to be very nice, but this one is kind of funky and low-key. I like to shop there when I have to buy clothes.

Maxine Weiss said...
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Original George said...

And we all keep waiting for better deals, and the factories keep closing.

It begins.

Maxine Weiss said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Sorry, Maxine. I have to delete you. Too bad, because you were funny in those comments. But you made yourself a persona non grata, and I can't accept you back, even if you write the kind of comments that once made you one of the top 5 commenters on this blog. Sad really. But you forced me to draw that line.

Trooper York said...

Sometimes you have to discount stock to make room for new stuff. If it is trendy there is no reason to keep it for next season. If you have classic pieces you don't have to sweat it.

The department stores are panicing as usual. They really cut the amount of goods they ordered for spring. That is why department stores are really dying businesses. Sort of like newspapers. People seek out specialties or they go full out bulk mass market like Wal-mart or Costco.

somefeller said...

I love sales, and take it as a point of pride to never pay full price for anything. That having been said, too much of a sale can give off the smell of desperation.

After Christmas, I saw a commercial for one of my favorite stores (Jos. A. Bank), which said for two days you could get three suits for the price of one. That commercial made me worry about the future of that store. However, I did buy three great pairs of wool dress trousers for the price of one in the pre-Christmas sale, so I don't have much room to talk.

theobromophile said...

Well, maybe it's because I'm wearing $17 Ann Taylor pants and a $28 Ann Taylor sweater, but I disagree. ($36 shoes = more than the last three pairs - CK heels, inter alia - put together. Whoops.)

Maybe it's the New Englander in me, but I really don't like spending money on clothes. Nevertheless, dressing like a homeless bum (or even someone who shops at Target) isn't in the cards, either.

Ridiculous sales make me happy.

Ann Althouse said...

Chuck, I don't much like Macy's, but it's part of a mall that includes the Sundance Theater, where I do all my moviegoing.

I had this picture in my head of exactly the sweater I wanted. It was pretty simple too: I wanted something long, narrow, blue, and good cashmere. I would have paid $500 for what I wanted. I found tons of bulky things and things that were either short and boxy or long and A-line, all of which I hated. The fact that these could be had for $29 didn't matter.

Yachira said...

Ann, you're wealthy, it's easy for you to feel the way to do about sales.

Maxine Weiss said...
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Trooper York said...

That is exactly the problem that will be cropping up this spring. Because the big stores have no balls they have cut all thier orders and the manufacturers do not have enough of a "cutting" ticket to make a lot of styles. So you will have a very limited choice unless the store has developed it's own styles. It will be bad this spring but really bad for the fall as the buyers have become extemely conservative.

JohnAnnArbor said...

I miss Hudson's.

I really miss Jacobson's.

rhhardin said...

I just bought 15 Hanes undershirts online, regular price.

The old ones had weakened enough to start getting holes under stress, like a dog paw poke stress.

There's no hard-to-get shopping experience there.

15 is the right matching number so that everything can go in the washing machine together and just constitute a full load.

There's your typical guys' clothes experience.

chuck b. said...

I never have a picture of clothes that I want to buy. I know it when I see it. I like very, very simple clothes without much embellishment. Button down shirts may have stripes or muted plaids. I would never buy pleated pants, ever. Ever. Nothing with a logo may ever be worn, and thank god that phase seems to be passing, at last. I mostly wear black, brown, navy blue, dark greens. Never gray or light blue or red. Although I have a nice light pink cotton shirt for summer.

I wear Addidas like these unless I need something dressier or sportier or sandalier, then I one or two pair of each of those alternatives.

Macy's is a good fit for men, I think--esp. when they have sales.

I have a cashmere sweater that I wear around the house, but I'd never set foot outside in it. Too gay.

HelenParr said...

This might be beneath you, but Lands' End has some very good cashmere.

Mebbe?

reader_iam said...

I have been acutely aware of changes in all sorts of stores over the past several months now, and within the past two, it's become a conscious thing. Due to circumstances in my own life, this is not just in my state of residence, but in three others more extensively, and a couple of others in the drive-by sense.

There are visible changes everywhere (some of the most marked, though I suppose, less dramatic in grocery stores), and it's not just Macys (or the Macys). Sometimes it's depressing; sometimes it's just interesting; and sometimes it's a little scary, in that a hundred stories in the media can't speak at that volume (or the volumes) that these observations do. The shelves don't lie.

If-IF!!--Original George is saying that's it's all about just waiting for better deals, I think I have to beg to differ. There are true tough times out there (here), and it cuts across so many situation and, often, in multiple ways, and I think people are, rationally, betting it's going to get worse. But I'll wait to here from George before expanding.

reader_iam said...

I hope this won't make you made, Althouse: But any chance at all of a second chance for Maxine? (For old time's sake?)

reader_iam said...

I mean: "mad".

Jeez.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Helen, but I want something much longer.

HelenParr said...

Like a duster?

siyeh pass said...

"The fact that these could be had for $29 didn't matter."

I hear ya - a girl's gotta have her standards. Cut, color, use all matter, but if it's not a decent price, it ain't happening. I'll take these good sales any day.

Simon said...

Whatever happened to the L.A. pantsuit?

Jason said...

When so many people are having a hard time it makes me feel bad to buy new things. Also, to spend money; but that doesn't sound as noble.

Trooper York said...

You can get perfectly good clothes at a good price point. But if you want cashmere you should spend for it or you will be getting cheap knock offs.

That's not to say that you can't be happy with a knock off just know that is what you are getting.

We are laying in a great supply of really cool stuff that is unique and at a good price, not at the "Target" prices you mention but well within anyones budget.

People are just uncertain right now. But once the One gets in, the gloom and doom will turn to sunshine as the cheerleaders in the media will try to turn the climate around to help their man.

Original George said...

reader iam....

Classic consumer behavior in deflationary times--if you wait to buy, what you are really doing is destroying your own job. The paradox of thrift.

Just finished with the new Business Week. Word that popped out was "severe."

To really remember the Depression, you have to be older than Clint Eastwood, who was born in 1930. I don't think we ain't seen nothing yet.

HelenParr said...

Nordstrom's Sorry. But this is on sale, too.

Tibore said...

"Big discounts make me stand-offish. They seem desperate."

That's weird. They make me go "Finally! They're charging a real price instead of an overly inflated one!"

Frankly, I like merchant desperation. Saves me money.

Trooper York said...

Tibore you really can't be that stupid.

Merchants run businesses that employ people and pay taxes. Behind every store that fails are bunch of families that lose everything. Including the big stores.

The anchor stores in malls are a necessary evil because they bring people to the shopping center and let the speciality stores flourish. So don't be so glib. The margins charged on clothing pays for rent and utilities and salaries and health insurance and a whole host of other things that lets a business survive.

So unless you want to do all your shopping at costco why don't you shut the fuck up.

Thank you, your pal Trooper.

reader_iam said...

But isn't there a difference between "waiting to buy" and deciding either "you don't need it all" or can't justify the purchase, regardless?

Yachira said...

Good God! I just went to Maxine Weiss's blog and searched on Althouse. It's like some kind of weird Kathy Bates stocker thing...jeez! Ann, I'd keep a weapon around, Maxine seems seriously deranged.

reader_iam said...

I meant, "you don't need it at all," but "you don't need it all" works, too. So guess that'd be an "and," not an "or" or "instead."

reader_iam said...

OK, sorry. I haven't visited Maxine's blog in ages and ages (maybe a year). So if that's still going on, I completely withdraw my query.

Original George said...

Trooper--

What is the typical mark-up on apparel?

100 percent? More?

Trooper York said...

Hey that's a trade secret boyo.

But you need a big markup for all the other costs involved. You know you have to get a size run, lets say six dresses. If you sell three at full price, two at 10-20% off and one at 50% you can make a profit. Otherwise you are sucking wind. Some garments are big money makers and others you can't get your full markup because the final cost is so high that no one wants to buy it.

It has been a tough balancing act these last few months.

Michael H said...

I seldom pay full retail. What's the point? Everything is on sale sooner or later. I just adjust the sale date to my personal calendar.

Tibore said...

WTF's the matter with you, Trooper? You take an offhand humorous comment about appreciating sales and turn it into a lecture about economics? Keep your chip on your own shoulder and don't throw it at me. FYI, my mother works in a large chain department store with other retirees, and I can assure you from talking to her and the management that deep 70+ percent discounts are only applied when they're trying to get rid of old merchandise, and they don't discount to the point of hurting profitability, so when I see sales like this, I don't worry about some store owner's and staff members going hungry, all right? What I see is a store trying to turn over old stuff to make way for the latest products.

So next time instead of jumping people and calling them stupid, stop and think for a minute that I may well know what the hell I'm talking about, and you may be lacking the proper context to judge what a person means.

You can thank me when you come to your own senses.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, you're wealthy..."

So I get a tax increase, right? You're a lefty with a low threshold for what counts as "wealthy." I know your kind.

"Like a duster?"

No, those are the "A-line" things I said I hated. I just want a long, narrow, straight, sweater in a good cashmere and color. It should be a standard item, but apparently, it's not. There are so many frumpy, horrible things out there.

Maxine Weiss said...
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Maxine Weiss said...
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reader_iam said...

Well. I can finally load the blog again. Which I discovered when I clicked from a gmail update of this comments thread, and it worked. Unfortunately, it was one of M's latest. Which, of course, puts the period and exclamation point on my foolish impulse of softness of a couple hours ago.

Just goes to show, now doesn't it?

I'll just slink off now, thank you very much, and sorry for the stupidity.

Tibore said...

Reader, I fully admit to confusion over "M". Long time ago, she was sane, then after I returned after a bit of an absence, she was off her rocker. Not just fallen off, but 3-step running, leap-into-a-triple-gainer off. To me, it was like someone else got a hold of her account and started venting. I was just taken by surprise.

I'll stop there. I don't want to start a big derail about her. I just wonder what happened to cause the change, and yes, that's a rhetorical question. I'm not actually querying for an answer, I'm just stating astonishment.

reader_iam said...

Well. Here's the thing. I was one of the earliest, IIRC (and I think I was) to note the changing in process. So I ought to know better. Still, I don't. I go soft (when I ought not), just as I go hard (when I ought not). So, that's how it is, these days: and so it goes. And [why] don't I know it.

former law student said...

For years it has been positively unpleasant to shop in a Macy's store, which is why I regret their rebranding of Marshall Field's. Macy's has bad prices and bad servide. At Field's I never had to track down a salesperson. Even after they were taken over by Dayton-Hudson, in the Christmas rush, each cashier had an assistant to wrap gifts in tissue and put them in a box with a gold elastic cord around it.

Prof. A: There are times when the fashion industry has only ridiculous things to sell, and unfortunately this is one of them. It was impossible to find a sweater that suits my mother-in-law's body type this year.

garage mahal said...
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garage mahal said...

Tibore
You had some good points downstairs that went unanswered and I have to confess you won the thread. I really just needed to get a dig on Ann for some reason and it felt great. That said, *clink* Salutè , and Happy New Year.

Chip Ahoy said...

... but spending is an emotional matter, and shoppers' emotions are important right now.

Ewwww, I know what you mean. I finally popped for a camera I've been researching for a long time. I put a lot of energy and thought into the purchase. The thing is, I've got a couple of cameras but they're entry-level point and shoot. Because of my Photoshop and i-Photo mad skillz it's possible to increase sharpness, contrast, saturation, etc., so I've been getting satisfactory pictures, but still, I keep wondering how well I could do with better equipment. I wrote to people, talked to people. Finally, the salesman said the order would be faster if I just placed it with him instead of clicking through the clickety clicks that would benefit one of the sites that was my best source of information. I bit. This caused me to feel guilt at purchasing in such a way that failed to benefit my best information source of But the salesman saying that caused me to think there would be some noticeable measure of speed associated with processing the order, and that was a value too. That was Monday morning. I'm expecting a package within a few days. Reasonable no? No. On Thursday I got a call reaffirming the charge. So I'm going, "Calm down. Just be patient," to myself, trying to talk myself down. On Friday I was finally notified by email the package was shipped and due for delivery next Wednesday, and that caused me to glee. But 2:00 am Saturday morning I get an email saying it's backordered. That causes my head to explode. Then I pick up the pieces of my damaged self, glue them together, then died. Then come back to life and exploded again. Reassembled again, died again. Resurrect. Explode. Reassemble. Die. Resurrect. Explode. Reassemble, Die. Presently, I'm dead. See? Emotional.

Michael H said...

There are so many frumpy, horrible things out there.

Take that, Maxine!

Ann Althouse said...

HelenParr said..."Nordstrom's Sorry. But this is on sale, too."

That was close, but it still has that A-line, that flaring that forces me to say no. A year ago it was easy to find long, straight things. Suddenly this year everything must float away from the hips, as if all the manufacturers are thinking everyone's ass looks big. It's insulting!

Trooper York said...

Tibore you ignorant slut, the discounts this holiday season was not to move merchandise in a normal business cycle. It was a response to a panic by retailers due to the downturn in the economy in the last quarter. Retail sales in womans apparall was down 22% in the last quarter. Many big retailers paniced big and paniced early driving the prices down and making everyone bargain shoppers and causing many to not buy at all because they figured the sales would be even bigger. This is in fact the worst retail climate in 20years and anyone who encourages people not to shop should be shot out of hand.

I will be happy ro do so.

Ann Althouse said...

"This is in fact the worst retail climate in 20years and anyone who encourages people not to shop should be shot out of hand."

Then would you shoot the manufacturers whose crappy designs encouraged me not to shop?

Trooper York said...

Absolutely they are the bane of my existance. Thats why you should go to a specialty store which will definately have what you want. You might pay a little more but that doesn't seem to be an issue. The biggest manufacturers play to the most common denominator. It's like getting all your news from People Magizine. It is good for what it is and there is no reason to scorn it, but sometimes they don't cover the Middle East in quite the depth you would like.

I know you are looking for Middle East Coverage, so to speak.

Ann Althouse said...

Trooper, I do nearly all of my clothing shopping at a local shop here in Madison. The collection constantly changes, and the selections are extremely well-edited. This is another reason why I feel dispirited when I see all those racks and racks of things at Macy's.

And FLS is right about the service at Macy's. It's hard to find any. At my favorite shop, the service is fabulous. They greet me by name and they help me pick out things, often bringing me items that suit me more quickly than I could find them. (Here's their website.)

Ann Althouse said...

BTW, everything is 38% off today, in celebration of their 38th year in business. It will be 39% off next year.

commenter said...

I found a red sweater merino wool sweater at a thrift shop on half price day. It still had the woolmark in it. I trust it. Stil, sometimes I snip fibers from the inside. I subject them to a gas and matchstick test to see if the label is true. many times they are not.

When i studied textiles, I knew all the requirements of a good wool, silk, and cotton, how it burned, how it faded, how it reacted to moisture, etc. It's hard to remember, so now i trust the woolmark. Maybe it was like trusting the good housekeeping stamp.

that said, fine woven labels are easy to produce and don't mean much. I wonder if artificial truthing cause capitalistic or uncapitalistic assaults on such things just as a good artifical fiber or synthetic fibers do.

anyway, ann, what is a good cashmere? Good cashmere and fiber properties such as crimp, length. etc. are still contested. Maybe you could tell me what good cashmere is: Iranian, chinese, australian? Maybe you should read this:

www.dpi.vic.gov.au/dpi/nreninf.nsf/childdocs/-89E7A8DAFEA417624A2568B30004C26A-137DAF9DA8A8FB47CA256BC700811CDA-6229990E97971F634A256DEA002786EE-91C701C793F438BDCA256C1A001B3BDC?open

I am stil confused afterwards.

Trooper York said...

I am glad that is where you shop Professor. That is actually the wave of the future. A specialty store that gives customer service and helps you find the proper fit and style is far preferable to the large scale department store.

Don't get me wrong. The big retailers are great at certain things. But you can't expect any help or guidance from Macy's or Nordstrums or online for that matter. Thats why everyone should go out and spend a $1,000 at their favorite boutique today.

Thank you.

Tibore said...

Trooper, calling people stupid, ignorant, and a slut's no way to gain sympathy. Had you been willing to be nice instead of opening fire, you might have gotten me to be nice and in fact sympathetic in return too. I in fact agree with you about the value of boutique shops and independent stores. I would have been happy to discuss this topic sanely and rationally had you not been a complete ass to begin with. But if you're going to dish crap out, you're going to get it full in return, and because you did, you've lost any sympathy I might have had for you. Don't call me stupid or ignorant ever again. You don't know me, and you've read more into my statement than what I put there. Don't project anything else onto what I said. You've went way beyond it already. Thinking my statement said "don't shop" is your mistake, not my words, and you can keep your misinterpretations to yourself from here on out. Start acting like a rational adult, quit being a petulant adolescent, and drop the drama queen hyperbole about Costco and shooting people. You've already lost my respect; don't throw away your dignity too by continuing to be a jerk.

That's the end. Go ahead and have the last word. You're on ignore from here on out.

Trooper York said...

Hey drama queen I was just screwing around so don't take yourself so seriously. Don't you get that 90% of what I say is ironic. A joke. Something to amuse you.

But fair enough, I will be happy to ignore you in the future.

And I don't want your sympathy or anything else. My shop is actually doing better this year than last because we are not afraid like so many of these big retailers have become in the last few months. I was just stating the facts of the matter as I see them in a blunt yet hopefully humorous fashion. So I apologize if I hurt your feelings.

That doesn't mean I don't want to shoot you though.

Tibore said...

Ok. All right. I didn't know that's what you were doing. I thought you were genuinely ripping into me. I was not able to perceive the humor. I'm sorry; please accept my apology. Since you weren't really being a jerk but were being ironic, you didn't deserve being unloaded on in the way I did. I shouldn't have done that.

If you're going to shoot, just don't hit anything I'm using right now. Given my misreading of your posts, that's probably my brain.

Trooper York said...

No harm no foul my friend. I like the comic aggressive Don Rickles approach. You have to take what I say with a grain of salt.

Or salt peter as it were.

PS you must be too young to remember the SNL parody of Point Counter point from 60 minutes with Ackroyd and Curtin where he calls her an ignorant slut. That was the tip off that I was joking.

Tibore said...

"garage mahal said...
Tibore
You had some good points downstairs that went unanswered and I have to confess you won the thread. I really just needed to get a dig on Ann for some reason and it felt great. That said, *clink* Salutè , and Happy New Year."


Whoops. Sorry, Garage, I missed this earlier when I demonstrated my cranial vacuum by locking horns with Trooper over a misperceived insult. So I need to make nice with you too. Thanks for the compliment, and my apologies if I came across as overbearing. Pseudoscientific claims is a button that can get pushed with me, and I tend to rattle off a mile of text before I stop and think about what I'm writing. So I appreciate the compliment, but I don't look on that thread as one I was trying to "win". Rather, it was just one where I was trying to get across a point. Trust me, it's in there somewhere, buried under all the text.

Happy New Year to you too.

Tibore said...

"PS you must be too young to remember the SNL parody of Point Counter point from 60 minutes with Ackroyd and Curtin where he calls her an ignorant slut. That was the tip off that I was joking."

Actually, I do recall it. Now. I just didn't do so in time to catch your tip off. I was young indeed when Curtain, Aykroyd, and Murray were on weekend update - 7 through 10 years old when that bunch was there -but I do remember it. Vaguely. Didn't know what a slut was the first time I heard it, though, but I figured it had to be something that was ignorant :) .

After that group left, I didn't really care for the Weekend Update skits until Dennis Miller came along. Those years I remember with far more clarity.