Big Apple Diary: Christmas ’09….T’is the Season to Not Overspend!!
NYC is "On Sale" but how low can it go? In the "old days" of 2008 this was saved for the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. You can blame the advanced kick off on the daily news reports touting economic demise; predicting that the current financial crisis, the worst in seven decades will produce the US's worst recession since the 1981-82 downturns. So retailers are racing to capture the customer while they are still in the "frame of mind" to spend money and flick their credit cards!
I spent time in a plethora of department & specialty stores in New York City and on Long Island the past few days; Macys, Bloomingdales, Nordstroms, Saks, Kohl's, J Crew etc etc just scoping the deals on "new receipts". Suddenly I realized that 20% – 25% off meant nothing anymore and unless the deal was 30% or more I was not interested. At Macys, there was % off signs at a low of 40% up to 75% off in moderate, bridge and designer sportswear. Biggest markdowns at 75% off were in bridge / designer brands; Hugo Boss, Magaschoni, Max Mara, Calvin Klein. I must admit that I was shocked by the savings ….in my many years of shopping, I have never experienced 60% or 75% off until now. It's really amazing that the customer is being trained by the retailer to expect bigger savings. Retailing as we knew it has been re-defined and will never be the same again.
Luxury stores in particular have stepped up the timing and have taken deeper markdowns in couture, designer and contemporary apparel. Designer collections, which are never big margin producers anyway, are being sharply cut before Thanksgiving; at Saks: 40-70% off designer collections for him & her starting Sunday 11/23. Advertised in the 11/23 NY Times; Neiman's is 40% off biggest names in fashion…designer, couture, contemporary sportswear, designer coats & shoes.
Admittedly, it is difficult to be in a cheerful, holiday state of mind with all these surrounding financial circumstances. But let's face it…this is an economy where the sales racks in every store have never been so appealing, so someone has to support the local economy. So, let it be"the fashionista" as she galvanizes both friends & family on her gift list with her uncanny ability to impress for less. One finds themselves carefully scouring stores and looking for those overhead signs with the % off deals that seem to be put up daily on branded merchandise be it apparel or accessories.
So how does the fashionista lay the groundwork to successfully complete this mission? It's really easy thanks to the barrage of daily newspaper ads, email blasts from brick & mortar stores and catalogs, shopping advice from US fashion magazines and TV. Of course, one can always consult their psychic, for financial advice as well as smart shopping predictions.
- Retailers catering to all income levels from mid tier to better are hooking onto a handle that promotes sensible shopping. Lord & Taylor ran a full page ad in the NY Times on Sunday encouraging their customer to "Give thoughtfully. Spend wisely. Sleep soundly". JC Penney sent email blasts that called out "must have gifts under $20" for those shopping on a budget. An extra plus is free shipping on the website.
- Fashion magazines the likes of Lucky, Vogue and InStyle now have monthly features dedicated to affordable shopping finds.
- Television is doing its part with news spots and talk shows contributing tips on how the smart consumer can find glamour at a price or great gifts. ABC morning news had a fashion show that focused on where to get the cheapest winter coats featuring five high quality coats priced from $10 – $80. Daily talk show "Live with Regis & Kelly" is doing a daily spot called SOS (season of savings) touching on money saving gift ideas in apparel, toys & electronics.
- The time is right to shop Vintage stores and web sites. You do not have to be a Hollywood star to reap the benefits of retro apparel, accessories, lingerie and furs from well known designers. This is reliable quality at a price from icons of the 60's, 70's & 80's or opt for bargain prices that have the look from less known labels. Either earns you smart shopper credit! Then there is "the look of vintage" from specialty stores like Anthropologie for sophisticated vintage or Urban Outfitters for urban chic.
- Why not give a gift that has an impact on friends, family AND the environment?? Even if you never thought about it as a gift option before you can indulge others with environmentally responsible products…think of it as eco- chic. Who wouldn't be excited to receive an organic tote or reusable shopping bag? Many of the well known food chains are collaborating with celebrities and designers on full ranges of totes & bags. They are incredibly reasonable and the socially correct statement to make…..an obvious plus.
- My personal philosophy is; "If you're going to spend money on gifts, then make sure whoever is on the receiving end gets noticed!" Believe me there are enough bold statements out there, no matter what your budget allows that will get anyone noticed;
- Bright accents: jewel & mid tones of red, orange, fuchsia, green, sapphire, purple will punctuate any outfit. Look for bright accessories; shoes, clutch handbags, wallets, cosmetic cases, scarfs, gloves and lipsticks
- Bling & Shine: be brazen as these are not timid pieces; sequined jackets & tank tops, metallic handbags/totes, flashy jewels…real and fake; cocktail rings,stone encrusted watches, chunky necklaces & earrings.
After Thanksgiving dinner this Thursday 11/27 most will be watching football games & dozing in front of their flat screen TV's. But the real adventurous consumer will be conserving their energies in preparation for the long night & early morning ahead as the shopping genes "kick in". There are so many choices, but if strategically planned they can hit "Midnight Madness" at the outlets then be first in line at 4:00am Friday when the doors open at Kohl's and JC Penney!!!
Till next week,