Monday, December 15, 2008

The Rich are like me when shopping?

Paco Underhill was in Science Friday December 14th, talking about the anthropology of shopping. Since I used to work in retail I was fascinated, but I was caught up by this tidbit in particular:

Underhill divided shoppers into three groups in our current economic environment. People who are struggling for the necessities. People who have close friends or families struggling for the necessities. And people who, say, have their mortgages paid off, who are doing fine but know that this is not a time for conspicuous consumption. The third group is still spending money, but in less viewable ways, such as taking vacation trips.

Kind of freaked me out, because I'm not buying much in the way of things, and haven't much of a taste to buy things. Particularly since all my family doesn't have it as easy as I do right now. And we are taking trips. And I have been spending money on services.

download Ira Flatow's "Science of Shopping" interview with Paco Underhill. The description of three groups of shoppers begins at around 19:30.


Heidi Ashworth said...

Freaky! But really, you knew you were in the third group, right? I always wonder which is the right way to go in an economic crisis---don't spend money and hang onto my few dollars or spread the money around to help stimulate the economy? It's a tough question. What surprises me is that the third group (all but you!) would be so sensitive as to not spend conspicuously. That is food for thought.

Nouveau Riche Me said...

It's not like I planned to be sensitive. But somehow, buying, or wearing or using, pricey stuff, just feels out of step right now.

Though I'm noticing the clothes in the stores have lots of seaming and complicated construction, which is harder for me to knock off at home, or hard find satisfying lower price versions of. So there's this weird peek-a-boo thing with the money.

AzĂșcar said...

I remember reading Paco's book almost ten years ago when I was working retail; it's a fascinating read!

karen said...

Interesting stuff. I had a short stint in retail about 7-8 years ago, and it was an eye opener. I loved it and hated it all at the same time. Pretty, pretty things all the time, but so hard to control desires and impulse buying! From my location (Orange County, CA), people are still spending plenty on pricey items - maybe not as much as usual (according to my old retail pals), but it's hard to say people are budgeting when 20 year olds walk around with Louis Vuitton, Coach, Dior, etc, bags. Some could be knock offs, but all of them aren't. *sigh* I'd love to be that glamorous, but I'd also love to be good and humble and unworldly. It's a conundrum.