By now everyone’s tired of hearing about the awful economy. While panic reigned for the first few 300-point drops on Wall Street, it’s now just a relief if it plunges fewer than 500 points.
Companies are eagerly taking advantage of the situation, from grocery stores wagging “taking competitor coupons!” opportunities to magazines plastering “500 ways to save this season!” on the front covers of nearly every issue.
News radio stations hold lengthy discussions, as if we didn’t already realize how bad the economy is.
But there are also reminders that not everyone is foundering under the recession.
For one, the entertainment industry isn’t expecting a decrease in sales because of the recession. The past few times I’ve been to the theaters, it seemed even more people were waiting in line to buy movie tickets.
The highly anticipated “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” was even pushed back to July, to my intense dismay, so there would be less competition.
Even in an economy where ads on television advertise the different stores that are going out of business, using the same voices and backgrounds, we Americans clearly cannot do without our movie and popcorn nights.
As the track record of American consumer spending and holiday debt shows, we can’t seem to do without many of our luxuries.
And if magazines are telling Americans that an amazing way to save money is to look at what we have in the pantry at home before going grocery shopping, it seems the majority of us aren’t very smart shoppers. Or maybe the magazines are just insulting our intelligence.
But perhaps extravagant holiday spending habits will do more than put everyone into debt this year. Perhaps our bad habits will help prevent the economy from falling further (if that is at all possible).
Imagine if everyone turned into a frugal, coupon-clipping, savvy, and not to mention eco-friendly, magazine story-worthy shopper.
The world, or at least the monetary part of it, would not be a pleasant sight.
Who would be left to buy those clothes worth thousands of dollars because they carry a tiny designer name or minuscule figure stitched onto the tiniest corner of fabric?
In fact, designers and high-end clothing stores are still hanging in there. Abercrombie and Fitch has no problem sticking to its no-discount rule and is still faring pretty well compared with so many other stores in town that have collapsed.
Mervyn’s, Linens and Things, American Home, KB Toys and Circuit City are all hanging their “going out of business” banners because people aren’t spending.
Since it took us nearly a year just to use the fancy label of “recession” to describe our economy, it will most likely take much longer for Americans to significantly change our infamous spending habits.
So while you hunt down bargains, looking on shelves above and below eye level and using all the other handy little tricks and tips you’ve picked up, and drive to stores all across town to find the best prices while whittling away cheap gasoline, don’t forget to do the usual holiday splurging.
The holiday spending traps are still alive and well and enticing – those items that scream “It’s the holidays and you deserve an expensive treat” and those kids who scream even louder for the priciest toy in the store.
So spend away – it’s the American way.
Teen columnist Emily Hu is a sophomore at Catalina Foothills High School. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org