The economy is tanking. Times are tough. We need a federal government with a steady hand on the economy (that last one, the one spouted by the Conservative Party, the party of deficits and rewarding supporters, makes me laugh, every time). Since I'm outside the economy and have been since my traumatic brain injury (aka concussion or closed head injury) and since I rarely go shopping, I can only take it on faith that the economy is in a bad state and that money is tight, jobs precarious.
Yet being on Twitter and reading how so many people I follow (mostly Canadians) rush out to buy the latest iSomething, which comes out annually, makes me wonder how much disposable money do people really have? More than the media makes out, it seems.
One day recently I went shopping. I had a family wedding to attend, and one can't show up looking like a welfare reject sans gift. Besides I wanted to shop for my own stuff for once. I planned my route to check out more sensibly priced stores for a hat, purse, and gift, but I ended up in Yorkville anyway, my old favourite place to shop shop shop and where, believe it or not, one can find a bargain, not just empty your bank account. I started early, stopped for coffee, and continued on into Yorkville in the afternoon. I found everything I wanted -- holy cow! -- plus a snazzy new pair of shoes. You can't go to a wedding in an old pair, right?
As I went along, I discovered something astounding: the shopping economy is thriving.
I saw discreet help wanted signs in stores wherever I went. I battled crowds in Yorkville stores and smaller crowds in other areas. I bumped into people I knew, also spending money. If people have this much money to shop and sales help is wanted, then how bad is the economy, anyway? I have read that Canadians are spending not saving. Yet it's hard to believe that people in these numbers would spend megabucks (well, to me, it's megabucks) if they don't have it. But perhaps my own normal point of view is colouring my perception.
Still, I received service I never have in my life. Professional, courteous, friendly. I began to wonder what I looked like that store help wasn't doing its usual ignoring me or the other usual quick hello and then leaving me to my own devices. Oh sure, some stores I went into did that, but in most, sales clerks came up to me and were genuinely interested in helping me find what I wanted. They wanted to make a sale and get a repeat customer. And because they did, I shopped so much that my credit card company put a lock on my account until I called them and verified all my purchases with the loss prevention department. That was a good thing! On the other hand, while making the call, I had a chance to eyeball the earrings nearby and ended up buying two pairs. Who could resist with a 2 for 1 sale?!
Okay, so perhaps stores are having to work harder to close those sales, and I can see why people shop a lot. Once you enter a store and make that first buy then a second buy, it's addictive!
One thing stuck out in my conversation with loss prevention: he said all my purchases were small. Small? Small?! Just how much money do people spend on stuff? Apparently, I have been outside the economy for so long that I've lost perspective on what is a large purchase. Or maybe Canadian shoppers really have lost their thrifty ways and the economy is thriving.