Economy impacts shopping habits

January 2, 2009 5:53:09 PM PST
Women's clothing stores could be facing a tough year ahead. A third of shoppers polled in a national survey say they're not going to buy clothes this year.

It's the worst possible scenario facing the shops that have thrived for years selling the latest fashions for women.

Instead of shop 'til they drop, they plan to drop shopping.

"We are definitely going to change our habits this year, it's similar to when the gas prices went up. We definitely cut back, and it definitely changes your habits," said Kelly Morphy.

Morphy is a Spanish teacher in Marin County. She admits she loves to shop and can easily spend $200 to $300 in a day ? but not anymore.

"I do have great things in my closet. I'm going to have to learn how to mix and match better, accessorize better, and really try to get as creative as possible," said Morphy.

Kelly's not alone. Her best friends, Lisa and Diane, claim they're going to cut back their shopping, too.

While labels are fashionable, thrift and consignment shops say they're seeing a big uptick in customers.

Stores such as buffalo exchange have been popular with young shoppers, especially college students. But the economy is driving in a new set of consumers.

"I'm seeing a lot of older people, more business people that are also just looking to buy more business wear clothing here at Buffalo Exchange instead of going to the name brands like Nordstrom and that kind of stuff," said Buffalo Exchange store manager Kate Morrow.

The change in buying habits will have a ripple effect beyond retail stores. It will impact garment factories in Asia and cargo shipping.

The real question for retailers is whether this situation is temporary or permanent. If permanent, it could be a fundamental change for the retail landscape.