Brooks Brothers and Wal-Mart — Studies in Recessionary Spending

It was my birthday last week, and my wife presented me with a few gifts from Brooks Brothers. Being herself, she was equally as concerned with getting a good deal as the sartorial impact of the purchases on my wardrobe. I asked her how busy the store was and she remarked not overly so. They were even willing to grant her an extra discount when she asked. Contrast Brooks Brothers -- which is not a luxury store in my book, but a good proxy for wardrobe spending for white-collar professionals -- with Wal-Mart. At Wal-Mart, a worker died being trampled to death by overzealous shoppers that literally clawed and kicked their way into Black Friday sales. As the economy gets worse, Wal-Mart will increasingly absorb a greater percentage of consumer's spend, as everyone looks for bargains. Brooks Brothers and stores like it, in contrast, will be forced to find new ways to keep customers coming back. Personally, I'll continue to shop at both retail formats, looking for bargains in every aisle, and negotiating even further discounts whenever possible in non big-box environments.

- Jason Busch

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