Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm Just Looking

A selection from Mark Gregory & Company, Pure silver cuff, pure silver herringbone necklace,
pure silver and gemstone bracelet all Michael Schofield designs. Blue topaz cushion cut and Palladium earrings, B&F Designs

Window shopping is now the great American recessionary pastime. As the recession continues to grind on, many people are still shopping; they just may not necessarily be buying. I’ve always had a way to gauge just how crowded the local mall is when I go shopping. If the cars are past a certain point in the parking lot, I know it will be packed inside. This goes back to the holiday season. The holidays are traditionally a time when the mall is busy and thus my gauge was formed. On a recent trip to run an errand I went to the mall on the weekend. I swiftly left and decided to come back during the week. The cars were parked past my gauge. So where is the recession?

According to recent surveys, Americans have fewer dollars to spend. The Wall Street Journal reported that from “2000 to 2010, median income in the U.S. declined 7% after adjusting for inflation.”[1] So if people are showing up at the mall like they are shopping for the holidays yet income continues to decline and unemployment remains high are all these people window shopping? When income is down and more and more people are spending their dwindling cash on necessities, it stands to reason that all those people at the mall are just looking.

There is nothing wrong with just looking. How else would someone know what is out there? When I hold a trunk show I always encourage “looking.” It is important that people look at all the pieces you have; this is so they can find something they love. In a down economy consumers are likely to be more selective. They will consider and weigh various products and are more likely to spend on items that they find fits their personality and style. This is especially true with jewelry. A person may need to look at many pieces before they find what they are looking for, or what they need.

Many jewelry customers today are planning ahead and looking first, then comparison shopping and finally purchasing. There are fewer impulse shoppers which can be a good thing. This is helpful for those of us who customize jewelry. If someone sees something they like but want it slightly different, I can accommodate them. But sometimes they have to look through a lot of windows first. No one is jumping in with both feet on any purchase today. I remember when I purchased my upgraded wedding ring quite some time ago. I found the perfect ring in the second store we went into, but my husband wasn’t so sure. This was back in the day and we were in Vegas, land of a thousand jewelry stores. He insisted that we continue to search, but regardless of what else was out there I didn’t see anything I liked as much.  

The store I purchased from allowed for a level of customization that I did not see in other stores. Many stores had readymade settings. This is probably why I purchased from this store. They allowed options. This is also probably why there are so many people at the mall. They are window shopping or visiting all their available options. After all, window shopping can be fun, even if we’re just looking.

[1] Phil Izzo, Bleak News for Americans’ Income, The WSJ, Oct. 14, 2011, at A6.

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