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Is cheap the new chic?

creditcrunch.jpgNobody can ignore it. Every time I pick up a newspaper, listen to the radio or turn on the TV, the credit crunch seems to be looming over our heads.

I am noticing that in every magazine I read or newspaper I check online, everyone is writing tips on how to deal with the new downward spiraling financial situation. When I was walking past the newspaper stand the other day I saw that both Elle Deco and Marie Claire were spreading their wisdom on how to shop in style whilst keeping budgets low. So I am wondering: is cheap the new chic?

Has Lidl replaced Planet Organic in being THE place to by your groceries? (For those on the other side of the Atlantic: Lidl is a discount grocery shop which doesn’t unpack any of its goods. You just pick your goods right out of the cardboard box, keeping Lidl’s overheads and prices down).

Shops like Lidl are picking up on the new trend and catering towards their new clientele. They now stock organic fruit and vegetables enticing customers whose priority it is to eat healthily but who want to work on their grocery costs. Another discount shop in Britain, Costco, has been selling cashmere jumpers, sheepskin boots and even Jeans by 7 for all mankind.

On the playgrounds, moms are competing about who has managed to buy the cheapest pack of nappies and tips are being exchanged about where you can get second choice Petit Bateau onesies for a 5th of the original price. A new verb “credit crunching” has been born.

The credit crunch is bringing on some welcome changes. It could have a far reaching impact on our world in a positive way: credit crunching means by default that we will be environmentally conscious. Fewer people will fly, cutting down on carbon emissions, less junk will be bought and discarded and we will start recycling more, be it because of our conscience or because of necessity. A mom was telling me the other day that her 4-year-old was washing her hands in the bathroom. She overheard her little lady talking to herself: “I need to save water and turn the light off.. because of the credit crunch”. This may not be a bad way to teach our kids to be more energy efficient.

The thing is, we are not going to be able to do anything about the crunch, so we might as well take it in our stride and make it into something positive.  If the side effects of the crunch are that kids (and their parents) might learn to want a little less, than maybe that isn’t a bad thing after all.

– Emilie


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Comments (12)

November 14, 2008

It’s funny, because Smart cars were the ones to drive while gas was through the roof… but lately I’ve noticed the return of the Hummer. We have disturbingly short memories so I wonder how long the trend toward cheap will last.

That said, I’ve seen noticeable drops in prices, particularly around electronics so I’ve begun to lean toward stingy given the laundry list of items I’m jonesing for.


Michela
November 14, 2008

Being a German brand Lidl also stocks some things that are not available in other supermarkets here in Italy. Like some granary bread mix that all northern europeans love.
On my part I tend to not shop there because of the way they treat workers. Many stories have appeared on the media on how they do not let workers rights be enforced in their stores.


Emilie
November 14, 2008

I need to put a disclaimer here! I am not advocating that saving money is worth shopping at shops that do not treat their workers in a respectful way.


Jude
November 14, 2008

I totally agree, is this not a rebalancing of a society way out of balance. Don’t get me wrong I love nice things and find it hard to pass a cute kids store, or shoe store! but this time has been forced upon us, and in a way I think living in a more frugal way makes you feel healthier inside and out. It is good to have a world view, our worlds can get so small.


Jude
November 14, 2008

sorry just read that and my english seems to have deserted me! I meant that this is a rebalancing ! More coffee obviously required this morning!


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Michela
November 14, 2008

Emilie, I didn’t think so!!
It’s just that I was not aware of this either. Then once after I told my (always very informed) father I has found nice bread mixes at Lidl he told me the stories.

I was just being informative, and also not judging anybody.

So far we are lucky enough not too have money problems so it’s also easy for me to decide where to shop and where not to shop!


Fred
November 14, 2008

Less is definitely the new “I want it all”! I work in the financial markets and around me there is an obvious trend to better and more responsible shopping. I am not giving up on quality (no way) but I am definitely giving up on quantity. And it feels really good! Asking myself “do I really really want / need that”? Will I still be happy tomorrow if I get this?
Another effect of the credit crunch (or not?), is that “on time” (if not “early”) seems to be the new “late”! I have noticed in the past 3 months that my friends have starting turning on time… to my greatest pleasure I have to say. We might be moving into an era of more respect. I wish.


Courtney
November 14, 2008

I’ve never even heard of Lidl!!

But yes, I agree with you. It’s better, in a way, to have to think about the things you buy, and to appreciate what you already have. It’s healthier and in the end, like you said, it’s better for your children to be taught these values.

But I am already getting tired of hearing the term ‘credit crunch’….


Silvia - Milano
November 14, 2008

I agree with Fred, it’s not the “quality” that we should give up, but the “quantity”. Do we really need all those things we buy for us and for our kids. We sure lost the memory on the real meaning of “being in need for something..”. That’s a value we cannot longer overlook.


November 14, 2008

I know I have really started paying more attention to what I buy in the last few months … I’ve taken up a few habits that I had when I was a student (flyer shopping etc.) and I’m glad I have … anything that makes us more thoughtful is good!


Courtney
November 14, 2008

P.S. I agree with Kidletnation (first comment). The amount of Hummers and large vehicles that are still on our streets is appalling!!


Emilie
November 18, 2008

Fred, you are so right about quality versus quantity. In my credit crunching frenzy I have been trying to cut corners with buying cheap replacement for some things. Invariably they break so I end up spending more and wasting more than I would if I had gone for quality!


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