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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where are you in the spending continuum?

Whiling away some time reading the fashion section of the Wall Street Journal. This became a habit during the terrible two years (and counting) of the financial meltdown. I kept trying to learn what was happening by reading the WSJ, and found myself reading their fashion section because I couldn't bear to read the real financial news. Whatever.

Yesterday's article was about how luxury retailers are trying to give the customer good value. I guess that's kind of related to my frugal theme: after all, value and cost are not necessarily in synch, either at the high end or low end of the retail continuum. And I'm always asserting (whining?) that true frugality is about good value, not necessarily low prices.

I was struck by the definition of the luxury shopper:

Luxury retailers cater to a fairly narrow group of shoppers. Women that Bain & Co. and Vogue magazine call "established spenders" make up just 16% of the U.S. population but shell out around $3,500 a year on apparel, accessories and beauty, about four times the average consumer. Those women include fashion mavens and wealthy professionals, the study says.

Anais Aiken, a 40-year-old mother of two who lives in Dallas, wears designer brands regularly and follows trends from the catwalk. She recently purchased a runway look from 3.1 Phillip Lim, a cream chiffon ruffled evening coat and an asymmetrical dress, spending she thinks "around $2,500."

Readers: do you accept these numbers? Does the average woman spend only about $900.00/year on apparel, accessories, and beauty? I am an average woman, but if not for my blissed-out forays to an excellent Goodwill, and my practice of coloring my own hair, and the luckiness of having a daughter who can give me good haircuts, I would be way over the average number.

And I can hardly accept that the high-end shopper spends only $3500.00.

My mother, for example, middle-class all the way, spends around $1000/year just at the hair salon--and that's in relatively low-cost Florida. That doesn't even count her shopping addiction, which manifests itself in frequent trips to Chico's and elsewhere.

So Fashionistas and Frugalistas: what think you of those numbers?


FB @ said...

I find that extremely hard to believe.

$3500/12 months = $291.667 per month

Unless they're saving that money each month and splurging on one big item, I wouldn't expect a "luxury buyer" to spend less than $500/month, upwards to $900/month.

I myself, when I was really into shopping and fashion, regularly spent $300 - $500/month, and I didn't buy anything "luxury" or "designer"...

Now I spend much less.. but just a single top from Anthropologie can run about $150 CAD before taxes. ONE TOP! Some girls buy new clothes each week, so I can imagine at least a top a week, or $600/month.

FB @ said...

Wait a minute

That includes beauty AND accessories?

Whoa. Then we're talking much more than that then... :\ Or perhaps we can lump it all together (accessories + clothes) but not beauty

I know people who can spend $300/month just on makeup.

Anonymous said...

I spend probably $100/yr on shoes (that's about one pair, NAOT, or Stonefly or occasionally Bass). When I do go shopping I tend to spend several hundred dollars all at once (last time was $600 at Brooks Brother's January sale)... but I go clothes shopping every 2-3 years. So that's $200-$300/year for me? But I seriously hate clothes shopping and only go when my clothing either doesn't fit or is falling apart. Too bad I'm not skinnier-- I could get more hand-me-ups from my much trimmer and more fashionable little sister again.

Man, if only I could live in DH's old t-shirts all the time... I would be such a happy camper.

We probably spend about $100/year on my husband and $50/year on my son now that he's out of diapers (who primarily wears hand-me-downs and things the in-laws bought-- we mainly just buy socks, shoes, and underwear).

I've had friends that shop for fun and recreation and they do spend a ton on clothing, especially the ones that buy something every week. And that's not even considering make-up and night-time moisturizers etc. So I can believe it for at least a segment of the population.

Northmoon said...

I think they left off a zero. Or that figure is per month not per year.

I'm not a luxury spender, and I spent $7,500 on clothes and shoes last year.

A friend of mine has a luxury clothing store where one outfit could easily cost $3,500 - are they seriously saying a luxury spender only buys one new outfit a year?

Anonymous said...

I like nice things, but I'm not a heavy shopper. I'll buy maybe one new garment each month from a place like Banana Republic or Talbots (and the rest at thrift stores). I don't have a lot of clothing or accessories, in fact, I have a shortage right now.

I do enjoy high-end makeup and beauty products, but I limit my purchases to a few new items each season. I get my hair cut & colored every 2 months.

I buy my share of expensive things, but I think I probably spend well below the average middle-class clothes lover if you add it all up. But I do manage to spend about $3000 a year on clothing and beauty stuff. So yes, I think that $3500 number has to be wrong.

Funny about Money said...

For the high-end shopper, that doesn't sound right. You could drop $1,000 on designer clothing in a single day. A good pair of designer shoes can easily cost $300. And if you include hair and makeup? Well... I have a friend who IS a high-end shopper. She gets her excruciatingly cute hair cut in a kind of wedge and then died grown underneath and snow blonde on top. Since her real color is now gray or white, she has to repeat this pricey style job once a month. I'm sure she drops a couple hundred bucks every time she walks into the salon. Then there's her makeup. Nothing will do but Lancome. I've watched her spend two hundred dollars on a quick breeze-through of the make-up department, just running an errand between the grocery store and the florist's. She bought so much stuff at Macy's that the cosmetics clerks knew her by name. I would put her spending level at something closer to $8,000 a year. Bare minimum.

Then there's me, a cut-rate dowd. Hair: $420/year, plus or minus. Makeup: no more than $50 a year, probably less. Clothing: normally about $300, though this year I've spent twice that. Shoes: depends. If I'm buying, about $300 in a year. That would put the whole package at around $1070 a year. I don't spend much on maintenance: my hair is never colored; my makeup comes from Walgreen's; I refrain from professional manicures; my pain-free shoes are so pricey I can't afford to buy them until an old pair falls apart; the weather's warm enough that nice coats and jackets just hang in the closet; and I live in jeans from Costco ($20/pair).

If I'm spending almost $1100 a year on my appearance, you can be sure normal women are spending at least twice that.

Funny about Money said...

oops... make that "died brown..." 8-O

metscan said...

I too find the sum mentioned ridiculous. Clothes in the US might be less expensive, but still.
This study reminds me of the many studies, when people are asked about their alcohol consumption. Nearly all women answer, that max. 1-2 glasses of wine while dining, max. 1-2 times a week.
Now we all know, how ridiculous this answer is too.

Marcela said...

I don't think a high end shopper spends that little. I added how much I have recently spent on clothes (but I had to renew my wardrobe post pregnancy so I bought much more than I normally would) and added hairdresser and cosmetics and I think I spent around 500 euros in clothing, 250 euros in hairdresser and 200 euros in cosmetics. So it is more than 900 dollars, but it possibly wouldn't be much more than that if I hadn't had to buy clothes.

Gayle Ann Berg said...

I definately agree with the other posts...the spending amount for the luxury buyer is unrealistic.

I'm a retired, frugal buyer who dislikes shopping...only buying when necessary. And I probably still spend close to $2000/year

Duchesse said...

Agree, a zero missing!

I've been tracking every penny I spend, and it's over that "luxury" threshold- but that counts jewelry, and gifts and does not include personal services & beauty supplies.

Frugal Scholar said...

@ALL--Doesn't this make you question the reporting in the WSJ? Or maybe the true luxury shopper that everyone is after is in the top 5%? that's still a lot of people.

@FB--$300/month on make-up??? I am shocked. A lipstick lasts me a looonnnggg time.

@nicoleandmaggie--I'm impressed! I actually like shopping--or just looking. I don't really like shopping itself.

@northmoon--I think they left off a zero too. But what does that do to the average woman--at 1/4 the luxury buyer? The average woman doesn't spend $9000!

@Ms M--Isn't it weird, though, that the WSJ would be so off--and that no editor caught an error?

@Funny--Yeah---I remember your shopping day! Hope you're enjoying all your new clothes.

@metscan--Not THAT much cheaper! I wonder if respondents are understating (I don't think so)...or if our preeminent business newspaper just didn't edit the piece.

@Marcela--I just read your blog, with some help from my colleague! Weren't you going to post yoru capsule wardrobe? I'm still impressed with your quantities.

@Gayle--Thanks for coming by again. I love frugal people! I know very few in real life.

@Duchesse--I think the 0 is missing. But I also wonder what the averawge person spends--do you think it's as low as $900?

Marcela said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog and for making the effort of reading my posts written in Spanish!
The post on my capsule wardrobe appears tomorrow in Metscan. I have also posted on how to rework what one has taking current fashion magazines as inspiration here
Thanks for remembering!
BTW I apply the same principles when buying my babies clothes (2 year old boy-girl twins) ;)

Anonymous said...

How long has the WSJ had a fashion section? Methinks, there IS a missing zero or two.

Duchesse said...

$900 (one-quarter the "luxury" figure, and therefor the expenditure of the average consumer) would mean $75/month for clothes, beauty and accessories. From what I have seen in comparable "woman's budget" articles, around $200 a month is closer to reality for the average consumer.