Wednesday, February 21, 2007

on shopping and price labels

On a more mundane topic, this article on price tages posted on this morning caught my eye. I don’t know the law in NY State, but some states have strict price tag laws that obligate retailers to label each item with its correct price. Consumer advocates oppose weakening these laws, as “The basic right of consumers is to know what things cost.”

Both my wife Ariella and I dislike shopping of any kind, but the upcoming bar mitzvah of my son has forced us to spend more time than we like browsing and buying clothes and what-not for the family. I have noticed particularly in many stores that cater to jewish clientele clothing is either not marked with a price or is unclearly labeled. This phenomenon is not limited to people selling clothes out of their basement (is this phenomenon unique to orthodox neighborhoods?), but even to businesses with storefronts on major streets. It drives me nuts. For some people, I guess the only concern is whether they like what they see, and price is secondary. I first want to see the price, and then I will decide if I like it. I also don’t like the impression that ‘haggeling’ is expected, or that the price may depend on how much you like the item and are willing to pay. Even more fun is when you ask a salesperson how much something costs, clueing him/her in that you have some interest, and the response is, “Just try it on – for you, I’ll give a good price.” Of course, since no price is marked, “good” is relative, and “you” means anyone interested in buying that particular item. Fortunately most of our shopping travails are almost over…

1 comment:

  1. Of course there are stores that list inflated prices on their price tags only to make you feel like they are extending a special bargain to you when they quote a price that is somewhat lower, though that price is probably still higher than what it should be. But having some information is still better than none, and many "basement" stores have no prices on tags at all. People assume the basement should offer the better bargain due to lower overhead costs (not to mention the ease of income tax evasion in a set up like that). But that is not necessarily the case. As we saw when shopping on Sunday -- the same exact skirt was in the basement shop and in a store on Coney Island Ave. At the latter it was $2 less than the former. Admittedly, that is not a big percentage on a $50 item, but it shows that the basement is not the place for the lowest prices. Also whereas "real" stores tend to discount female fashions from last season at 40 to 60% oof, the basement only takes 30% off, and I suspect that the price is jacked up prior to that discount, so that the real savings are only about 20% on last year's merchandise.