Tag Archive | "consumers"

The End of Conspicuous Consumption

Karina Ioffee, Igor Kossov, Rachel Geitzhals, Mark Morales and Rima Abdelkader

Thrift is In: Consumers’ Attitudes Adjust to Downturn in Market

By: Mark Morales

testGone are the days of leisurely walks through the mall. Bargain hunting is all the rage now, and a necessity for a growing number of people. And while many retailers are reporting a drop in sales, some are benefitting from the financial crisis.

Goodwill Industries International saw a 5.5 percent increase in sales from the previous year. According to Lauren Lawson, a Goodwill spokeswoman, it’s the bargains that are driving the spike. “You can spend a hundred dollars and look as good as someone else who shops at a major retailer,” said Lawson.

Goodwill’s success is an anomaly. JC Penney reported a 9.8 percent dip for February and is predicting equally low results for the month of March. Gap Inc. isn’t faring much better, with its North American division reporting a 12 percent decrease for February 2009. Banana Republic and Old Navy have also been hard hit.

Meanwhile, Goodwill continues to flourish, seeing a rise not only in sales but also donations.

“People like the aspect of donating and shopping and reusing,” says Lawson.

On a recent day Joshua Perlowitz,47, and a resident of Flatbush, Brooklyn had found a table and chair for only $30. The items had been marked down from $100. That’s a big difference for Perlowitz, the father of four teenagers, who frequently need new clothes as well as items for school.

“I’m just trying to make ends meet,” he said.

At Michael’s, a consignment store located amidst the posh boutiques of Madison Avenue, business is also jumping. Here women sort through racks of Armani pants and Oscar de la Renta dresses, as well as both new and used bridal gowns. The store feeds the need for designer labels—this is Manhattan, after all—while minimizing the sticker shock that often goes along with it.

Clothes may be one thing, but what about cars which many rely on to get to and from work? Auto sales are down 41 percent from last year, as consumers wait longer to purchase new cars. But repair shops are also feeling the pain, as more people wait until the very last minute to make needed changes. At Maven Motors, in Jamaica, Queens, the shop is nearly empty on a recent day, a marked change from earlier days.

“We used to be packed,” says Primnath Singh, a mechanic. “We used to not have the time to even spit.”

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Photo Slideshow: Life in the Slow Lane

By: Rachel Geizhals

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The automotive industry is in pain as consumers look to more efficient foreign-made cars. But repair shops are also feeling a sting, with drivers waiting longer to get needed repairs and forgoing many others. Click on the photo to visit a Queens-shop.

Take a Chance on Me

By Igor Kossov

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Retail sales have dropped, but people are still buying lottery tickets. Even in the darkest of times, hope is the last to die.

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Listen to the radio story here.

[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/132/files/2009/03/lottopiece_1-2.mp3]

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Something Old, Something New

By: Rima Abdelkader

The economy may be in the dumps, but people still get married. Check out a Manhattan store that is cashing in by selling discount bridal gowns.

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