Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Recession Sells: Shoppers speak

November 28, 2008

(Adds comments from Friday afternoon)

Shoppers thronged stores to pick up discounted flat-screen TVs, electronics and clothes as panicked retailers pull out the stops in what is traditionally the biggest shopping weekend in the United States. Reuters reporters are out in force, gauging consumer sentiment. Here are our favorite quotes so far:

“I’m not going for the Santa Claus award,” said college student Corey Talley, 24, who was shopping at the Mall at Prince George’s in Hyattsville, Maryland, and plans to spend less this year because he bought a four-unit apartment building in a low-income neighborhood in November 2007 and had only one tenant.

Nursing students Williamena Davids, 23, and Vivian Teah, 25, arrived at the mall at 5:12 a.m.
“I thought there was going to be some sales. No luck,” said Davids, who had been working for Geico as a customer service representative but lost her job this year.
Teah said her budget was also pinched: “I have a big family. I have to make sure that everybody gets something. It’s fun (to go shopping). We just wish we had money.”

“I will not go near stores on Black Friday. People are crazy,” said Lori Kirby, who was in Kmart near Manhattan’s Penn Station on Thursday to pick out a last-minute holiday outfit for her aunt. “Unless you get there first, it’s like running with the bulls or something.”

“The recession is kicking in,” said Tammy Williams, 36, as she waited before dawn to enter a Kohl’s in West Paterson, New Jersey. “I’m just looking for a bargain, anything to save a couple of dollars. I’ll save the rest for food shopping.”

“I think everybody is waiting for deeper discounts. I certainly am,” said Cheri Tenfel, a nurse, who was shopping at a Best Buy in Racine, Wisconsin.

“I’m horribly worried about the economy. It’s going to take a long time to recover, I think,” said Carri Bissen, who was shopping at a Racine mall. She said her husband is out of work and that she’s only getting gifts for their children this year. “My kids are getting more clothes and shoes rather than the fun stuff they’d normally get.”

Alice Hughes, 45, was out shopping in Columbia, Maryland, and said she was not impressed with Black Friday prices and that she expects the discounts to deepen as Christmas approaches: “They tell you they’re marking down but they’re really not.”

“I just want to buy everything on sale today,” said Marjorie Daube, 59, of New York, who is expecting her husband’s bonus to be smaller this year. “We are cutting down, buying necessities and things on sale for my daughters … Shopping was never fun at all, and it’s less fun now.”

“It’s almost like a guilty feeling when I hand over my money,” said Janet Duran, who was visiting from Scotland and shopping at an Old Navy store in midtown Manhattan. “I think: Should I be doing it?”

Jen O’Neil, 18, and her friend Lauren Chin, 17, arrived at the Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island, New York, at about 9:30 a.m. on Black Friday and were loaded down with bags by noon. About half of their purchases were for themselves and the other half were holiday gifts. “I got less (spending money) from my parents this year, but I put in my own money,” Chin said.

Mandeep Singh, 14, was also at the Roosevelt Field Mall, where he bought a jacket and jeans. “As a kid I don’t have the much (money) in the first place, and this year it goes a lot further,” Singh said.

Marisol Quinones came from the Bronx to shop at the Atlantic Center Mall in downtown Brooklyn at 4:30 in the morning and didn’t find the deep discounts she expected. 
“It was alright … I thought it would be cheaper.” Quinones and her friends all said they planned to spend less on holiday gifts than last year. “Food is going up, everything’s going up, but money’s still the same. Things (prices) are so high, so being with family is better than spending all that money.”

(Photos\Reuters; Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman, Diane Bartz, Nicole Maestri, Michelle Nichols, Karen Jacobs, Ellen Wulfhorst, Alexandria Sage, Ilaina Jonas and Martinne Geller)

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