30% off! 50% off! Now 75 to 80% off! Makes me wonder how much value the stuff really has. If it was wilting lettuce, day-old bread or over ripening bananas, it would make sense. How much of the markups are to pay for the avalanche of ad mailings retailers consider necessary to stay competitive? Do I really need several pages of newsprint ads for every big box store in town every day? How much for overhead costs of maintaining mostly empty stores on non-sale days? Turns me off shopping is what it does. I half-heartedly clip coupons, store them in my car and let them expire. No worries, the discounts just get deeper. If I really need a few things (and no matter what the discounts, I’m to the point where there are certain things I will never need), I’ll just go in a get them, saving the time of reading the ads and planning my route, the money of driving all over town and buying extra things I notice on the way, and the stress of going out on big sale days. If I pay a little more for individual items, I consider it a simplicity tax, because over all I’m spending less in time and money. My favorite bargains are at the charity-run second-hand stores, anyway.
I looked at some research on retail markups, and here’s the list I found on wisebread.com:
- Prescription Meds: 200-5600% (revolting that these should be at the top)
- Glasses: 800-1000% (Does that seem right? Is that for all the “free” adjustments later?)
- Furniture: 200-400%
- Shoes: 100-500%
- Clothing: 100-350% (highest for jeans)
- Cosmetics: 60-80%
- Cell Phones: 8-10%
- New cars: 8-10%
- Groceries: 5-25% (higher for luxury items)
Here’s to a world where manufacturers make good, useful things without polluting and pay workers a fair wage, where retailers charge a consistent, reasonable price for minimally packaged goods advertised truthfully through the web or other low cost, low energy means, and where every community has sources of locally relevant products and skills. Some items could be rotated by season if folks don’t need them very often. Others could be made to order. Music, arts, and crafts could arise from local culture and express true personal, community, and regional soul, and the “entertainment industry” could die a natural death. Here’s to a world where communities would share the wisdom of history and resist a return to less resilient and more global economy.