Hello readers! I hope you’ve all got fun but restful Memorial Day plans for this weekend.
In light of what’s sure to be a busy shopping weekend, my mind is on bargains today. We all appreciate a bargain. Bogos, two-for-one, buy-one-get-half, etc. A sale by any name is worthwhile. Or is it? Reliable consumer research, like that of the reputable finance blog Walletpop, tells us that people often overspend during retail promotions by buying things they don’t need simply because they’re getting a per-unit discount. But in a world where many of us live with a scarcity mentality, it’s difficult to accept that truth. The voice of scarcity warns us that we may not have enough money in the future to afford it, so we must buy it now while it’s on sale. Or horror of horrors, it may get discontinued in the future, so we need to buy it now. Read the following sentence out loud, please. “It’s on sale, I have to get it now. If I don’t get it now, I’ll never be able to get it, or something like it, again.” Sounds like a ridiculous statement when you say it out loud to yourself, doesn’t it? It sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous. It’s also false and irrational.
For me, nowhere does this irrationality reach its boiling point more glaringly than at Old Navy on Flip Flop day. Last week, it was a gorgeous sunny Saturday. I hopped into my car, for a pleasant visit to Old Navy. I went intending to get a couple of t-shirts for a short getaway trip. The parking lot at the shopping center was insanely full, but I didn’t mind. Until I got out of my car and realized that everyone was walking right past the Barnes & Noble, right past ULTA and Babies R Us, straight into Old Navy. I opened the door and was greeted with pandemonium. It was sort of like a refugee camp–masses of people grabbing random things, yelling out stuff like “I’m over here Rachel! I got the last two, thank God!” and “MOMMY! Where are you?” and “WHY are you here?? I TOLD you to save my spot in line!” In the meantime the aid workers–er, Old Navy employees–were helping any shell-shocked stragglers find the things they needed to survive, like various inexpensive items that were further discounted by 10-20%. The line snaked all over the store and I realized the error of my ways: I had unwittingly come on dollar-flip-flop day.
Folks, many of us use flip flops, and if you’re from warm-all-year South Florida like I am, you probably use flip flops more than the average North American. I get that. What I don’t get is how or why people lose their common sense and reasoning, and actually stand in LONG, SLOW, winding lines to buy these cheap rubber things. Seriously, people? The regular price is roughly $2 more, and there’s a 5-pair limit anyway. Why would people willingly participate in that unruly mess to save 5 or 10 bucks? Isn’t your time worth more than that? It reminded me of reports that I read about the Kentucky Fried Chicken promotion for the free meal: people waiting in line for a couple of hours for free fast food at what is already…drumroll please…one of the cheapest restaurant chains in the USA. Seriously? You’d rather wait two hours for two pieces of free chicken than shell out a few dollars somewhere else and do something pleasurable or productive with that time? Hmm, okay then…
Needless to say, I stayed at Old Navy just long enough to snap pictures of the madness and promptly walked out. In my opinion, waiting in line can be worth it for a significant discount on a big-ticket item, like a 20% markdown on a television. But if it’s a dress marked down to $29.99 when the original price is $34.99, then it’s not worth it. Neither that price point, nor that dip in price merit my wasting time in a long line when I could be at the pool with my relatives. My advice after previous years of holiday weekend shopping? Do a little research first before heading out. Just because something is featured on the cover of a store’s newsletter doesn’t mean it’s marked down–very often, the products you’re buying during holiday sale weekends aren’t even discounted at all! Bargains shouldn’t just be about saving a buck; they should be worth your time too. Time is not renewable resource, but a cheap product is! Remember that when you’re standing in long lines during Memorial Day Weekend sales, Independence Day sales and Black Friday sales and remind yourself that your time is more valuable than a pair of flip-flops.
What stuff are you and aren’t you willing to stand in line for?