We want to have the news reported as soon as it can be; we have a 24 by 7 newscycle that makes it hard for anything to be quiet for very long. In fact, i am not sure what the test for “newsworthy” is anymore, but I would love to know.
When I hear GM is in trouble, or Circuit City is in bankruptcy, as a consumer, that makes it riskier for me to choose that retailer as a vendor for anything I need. For example, we have an aging minivan, but I am becoming increasingly wary of replacing it with a GM or Ford vehicle, not knowing if they will still be around to service the vehicles down the line. I can substitute Best Buy for almost any purchase I could have made at Circuit City, making it a better bet that if others think like I do, it’s unlikely that businesses on the brink of bankruptcy will be able to make it back out of Chapter 11.
I was at a conference, and a bunch of us were talking during a break about the huge sales everywhere, and the old line retailers that were heading for financial trouble- Talbot’s was mentioned, for one. We speculated on what other shops we thought might be similarly headed, based on our shopping experience or lack thereof (ie. they never seem to have anything we want).
I think what I’m seeing among the Moms I know is a serious sense of caution about spending. We’ll break out and buy something if there is a serious need, but even then, we won’t buy just anything- it either has to be special, or of good quality at a reasonable price. “Shopping as sport” or as a source of entertainment has dried up. People are shopping for their own personal long tail- what will last longer, what will bring more than momentary pleasure, what will be more significant.
What’s dried up is the transitory, fun and silly purchases that drove huge sectors of the economy. The “we can sell them anything” sector. Fads are going to be harder to sustain I would imagine, because people just don’t have the extra money to spend on the new millennium equivalent of the pet rock.
What do you think? Do you see this among the people you know? What do you think this is going to mean for the businesses in your community?