Shopping and the economy

January 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Shopping and the economy -- what are retailers doing to lure you in and how can you get the most out of your money? Award-winning consumer researcher Dr. Kit Yarrow helps explain.

How has the economy changed consumers?

The most impressive shift has been willpower. Consumers are cutting back and determined to get the most for their money. They're recognizing their power and retailers have responded by offering bargains, better service and a genuine focus on what consumers need and want.

There's also a newfound focus on teaching kids about money and a deeper consideration of "needs" versus "wants."

How are consumers shopping differently?

Consumers are:

  • Using the Internet in a more mainstream way to research prices and products
  • Embracing resale merchandise, and selling unwanted items
  • Investing in home entertainment
  • Capitalizing on bargains
  • Delaying major purchases
  • Using credit less
  • Returning more

Interesting to note that men and Gen Y-ers have cut back less than others.

What's the best way to maximize dollars in today's economy?

  • Research products online and sign-up for emails from your favorite retailers
  • Order products online shopping to avoid sales tax
  • Shop locally for items priced equally to online bargains
  • Befriend sales people who will alert you to upcoming sales
  • Sell or donate what you're not using
  • Negotiate prices of high-ticket items
  • Know that big bargains on apparel and seasonal merchandise will only last until August
  • Give yourself little luxuries to avoid binges later
  • Use your frequent-flyer miles and loyalty points

About Kit Yarrow, Ph.D.
Dr. Kit Yarrow is an award-winning consumer research psychologist and a professor of both business and psychology at Golden Gate University. She's the author of Gen BuY: How Teens, Tweens and 20-Somethings are Revolutionizing Retail, which will be published by Jossey-Bass in August.

For more of Michael Finney's consumer stories and advice, visit 7 On Your Side.