Thursday, December 18, 2008

PRICES ARE FALLING (well, at least in some areas)

While most of us continue to complain about rising prices, in some areas of the marketplace, prices are going down. We here at CHEAPIOSITY consider it our mission to keep you in the know; we live to point out that silver lining of the Recession/Depression cloud. (You say Recession, I say Depression, Let's call the whole thing off.)

FOOTWEAR - Shoe prices have declined by 3.9 percent, in large part to lower-cost foreign imports and the growth of discount outlets and big-box stores. Carrie Bradshaw and her minions must be dancing in the streets. And we're pretty sure their feet hurt.

TELEPHONES - The price of wireless telephone services dropped 31.6 percent during the past decade while the price of long-distance telephone calls fell 23.1 percent. The reasons are two-fold: deregulation and stiff competition. Reach out and touch someone.

PERSONAL ELECTRONICS - Prices are dramatically lower: Televisions (down 77.9 percent!); Computers (down a whopping 88.3 percent!); Audio equipment (down 39.3 percent!); and Videocassettes, Video discs and other media, including Rentals (down 20.4 percent). The reasons? The usual suspects: Increased competition and reduced labor costs, mostly due to overseas outsourcing. The good news: Prices are down. The bad news: Your job's been shipped to Asia, and you can't buy much of anything. Dang.

NEW VEHICLES - Reduced demand has caused the 6.6 percent drop in the price of new cars and trucks over the past decade. People are just not buying cars right now, so prices keep dropping. Wait. The auto industry is in trouble? We should really do something about that. Does the government know?

CLOTHES – The cost to clothe a family has dropped 11 percent in the past decade. Lower-cost foreign imports and volume buying by discount and big-box stores have helped contribute to the decline. This is particularly true for the cost of boys and girls clothing, which has dropped 23.3 percent and 18.6 percent in 10 years, respectively.
Costs to clothe our little Cheapiosity family have dropped a whole lot more; in this economic downturn, many of us have turned to thrift shopping pretty much everything but our underwear. We're going green and saving lots of green. A note: Go through your closets right now and donate any clothing you haven't worn in a year. It's the right thing to do.

WATCHES – High-end watches are taking a major hit in an era when a disposable Timex gets the same job done. The cost of a timepiece fell 6.2 percent in the last decade. Gee. If rich people don't wear expensive watches, how will we know how rich they are? This is terrible news. We should throw them a benefit or something.

TOYS - The price of toys has declined 44.4 percent over the past decade. Why? It's not just your imagination. Toys are getting cheaper, not better. Quality being sacrificed for profit, as evidenced by all the toy recalls and foreign outsourcing.
While this is terrible news, this explanation makes one of our partners feel decidedly less guilty; after years of essentially tithing to her local ToysRUs and Disney Store while spoiling her now-grown daughters, she had assumed those chains' recent decline was entirely her fault. Now, she can stop pressuring for grandchildren or at least refrain from using the "save the economy" argument.

So...the whole prices falling thing. Very good news, very bad news. Bottom line? If you have any money to spend, spend it wisely. Things are going to get worse before they get better. At least, that's the common wisdom. And in this holiday season, be especially aware that a lot of people have a whole lot less than they had last year. You might want to share the relative wealth. Just a thought. Happy Merry.

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