Shoppers Head Online for Guilt-Free Spending
Minimalism is the new black as shoppers cut back on luxury purchases and cover up their persistent consumer habits by shopping online, shrouded in the anonymity of the internet.
With so many jobs lost in the US alone due to the economic crisis, those who can afford to continue shopping are still doing so - but they're not flaunting it, preferring to keep their spending habits under wraps and their clothing choices clean, simple and glitz-free.
When just about everyone is making do with less, sometimes much less, those $2,000 logo-laden handbags and Aspen vacations can seem in poor taste. “Luxe” is starting to look as out of fashion as square-toed shoes.
As sales at high-end stores like Neiman Marcus plunged by nearly 30 percent in October, compared with a year earlier, Costco sales slipped just 1 percent and Wal-Mart reported gains.
A look at the rate of online shopping in Canada points to a telling trend - that people are generally moving towards the convenience of buying online, and this seems to be amplified by the financial crisis and the unwillingness of people to spend conspicuously when so many around them are suffering.
More Canadians are shopping online, with sales in 2007 rising to $12.8 billion, according to a Statistics Canada report released Monday.
Statistics Canada's last e-commerce study, conducted in 2005, found Canadians spent $7.9 billion online — meaning the value of online shopping rose 62 per cent in two years.
But despite a sharp increase in online sales for Canada in 2007, the current online spending has reached a plateau:
Consumer spending on e-commerce sites grew just 1 percent during October compared to the same month a year ago, according to ComScore.
In fact, last month was the worst growth month for online retail spending since ComScore began keeping track in 2001.
Rising prices and unemployment rates, and the psychological impact of the chaos of the financial markets are to blame, according to ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni.
Net-a-Porter caught on to this immediately after the markets started to crash, forseeing that shoppers might feel less guilt by purchasing online. The online retailer responded by offering discreet brown paper packaging for all shipments, encouraging waning e-shoppers to spend a bit more anonymously.
“The era of conspicuous consumption, at least for the foreseeable future, has come to a close,” said Paco Underhill, the author of “Why We Buy,” which explores the science of retail. “Consumption will still happen. It’s just not going to be as public.”