The Checkout

Shoppers? Yes, They Still Exist

Kathy Lally

My colleague Kendra Marr was out chatting with shoppers yesterday -- yes, there are still some people shopping, though retail sales figures might have you thinking otherwise.
Caleb Huey, a 19-year-old junior at American University, said he was feeling guilty about his new winter wardrobe, but he couldn't stop himself from blowing most of his paycheck from his job at a marketing company.
"With the economic downturn, I've been shopping more," he said. "I makes be feel secure to go out and buy more things. I don't know why."
In fact, while he was shopping in Georgetown yesterday, someone stole the H&M coat he had bought that day.
"Someone just picked it up and ran off with my bag," he said. "To make myself feel better, I bought another coat, which is something I shouldn't have done."
But current market turmoil is becoming "terrifying," he said. Though he is a full-time student, Huey is hoping to land a second job in retail to finance his expenditures.
"This will probably be my last latte outside of school," said Huey, who was studying outside of Dean & Deluca.
Elisa Yoch, 33, didn't have any qualms about opening lululemon athletica, a new store that will sell luxury athletic apparel, on M Street in Georgetown
"There are people up and down the street all the time," said Yoch, who lives in Annapolis. "I wouldn't guess there's an economic problem right now."
As for her own shopping, she continues to buy party and athletic clothes.
"My husband would rather me not though," she said.
Sherry Brown, 41, was returning items to J. Crew and looking for hand soap on her lunch break.
Has she cut back?
"Not yet, but it needs to happen," said Brown, who works at George Washington University.
She hasn't made a big purchase recently, but her bills are growing.
"It's all the little things that pile up," she said. "New boots, a new purse -- things you think you can do without, but not really."
What about you? Are you buying anything these days?

By Kathy Lally |  October 9, 2008; 1:04 PM ET Annys Shin , Economy Watch
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Yes, we (or rather, my husband) did make a purchase today. He bought a new doorstop to put behind our bedroom door. It cost $1.50. "WHY," I asked, "Did you do that?"
"Because," he said, "the rubber cap came off the old one."
"Cdn't you have covered up the exposed tip w/ some masking tape or something?"
"One of the girls" (our granddaughters) "might prick herself on it."
It's true, they like to make the doorstop (basically a spring) go SPRONNG!
Oh, wow, what an indulgence--a new doorstop. Having celebrated my 70th b'day (w/ a pizza) last Saturday, when I read your column I feel I have outlasted my usefulness on this old earth. Young people are spending money as if there's no tomorrow. Guess what, I have seen tomorrow, & it looks like penury to me.

Posted by: Patricia R. Sweeney | October 9, 2008 10:49 PM

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