In late January I was interested in purchasing a suit. A regional department store was having a 50% off sale on men’s clothing so I thought I’d go take a look. I found a suit I liked, which retailed for $795 less 50%. Once I had it fitted, I took the suit to the register where it was scanned and I was told the price was $39.

 

"What?" I was confused.

The store clerk proceed to explain a myriad of 50% off of 40% off of 70% off of 20% of the retail price less an additional 10% and on and on. The employee seemed a little embarrassed but was adamant the price was correct even though it was less than my alterations.

Editor’s note: The following item is republished with permission from the Matrix blog. Click here to view the original item.

In late January I was interested in purchasing a suit. A regional department store was having a 50% off sale on men’s clothing so I thought I’d go take a look. I found a suit I liked, which retailed for $795 less 50%. Once I had it fitted, I took the suit to the register where it was scanned and I was told the price was $39.

"What?" I was confused.

The store clerk proceed to explain a myriad of 50% off of 40% off of 70% off of 20% of the retail price less an additional 10% and on and on. The employee seemed a little embarrassed but was adamant the price was correct even though it was less than my alterations.

And then I turned and looked around the store. A Saturday afternoon with this kind of discount:

NO ONE WAS IN THE STORE.

If this scenario occurred two years ago, it would have been like a scene from the movie "300" with carnage and piles of bodies clamoring for the last suit on the rack.

And that’s what is wrong with the economy right now – it’s not all about price. It’s also about confidence.

I asked the clerk to hold the suit while I went and bought four more as well as other accessories for similar discounts. I ended up spending what I intended to in the beginning, but got about 20 times the merchandise.

As I walked out of the store, I felt miserable, convinced more than ever the wheels were coming off our economic wagon and that this type of discounting was not free — we would end up paying for it in other ways.

I have been including this experience into (aka weaving them into the fabric of – sorry) most of my speeches as of late because I think it captures the essence of what’s going on at the moment.

But I still like the suits.

Originally posted at Matrix, Copyright (c) Jonathan Miller.

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