Crouching Buyer, Hidden Bargain

January 15, 2009

The terrible U.S. retail sales  racked up in December — called a “horror show” by ING — were all the more gruesome because of the sales on offer to customers in the run up to Christmas. Shops weren’t exactly giving things away, but their generosity knew few bounds.

Consider the experience of one visitor to a heaving handbag department in a Maryland Macy’s.
 
    Customer: “I would like to buy this handbag please. Oh dear, it appears to be the only one that is not on sale.”
    Salesman: “So it is. Tell you what, sir, I’ll give you 15 percent off anyway.”

Happy customer, happy new handbag recipient, unhappy sales figures.

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