Dian's Column
Dian's Archive


Ready. Set. Shop.

By Dian Vujovich

Walking down South County Road the other day, and past all those vacant storefronts, made me feel a little unsettling. How, in a town with this kind of wealth, could so many shops have closed?

Were proprietors paying too much in rent? Were their dreams and expectations too high? Has the market and the economy so damaged the pocketbooks of Palm Beacher’s that they’ve turned away from shopping? Don’t they shop in town? Or, aren’t there enough of them around to sustain small businesses?

While the answer to my question might be “all of the above” and then some, the fact is, it’s the wealthy shoppers who will get this economy up and running again. Not the savers.

When it comes to spending, government data shows that households with $150,000 or more in annual income account for 40 percent of all spending, according to a WashingtonPost.com story (http://tinyurl.com/l4zklj9) . That’s a big number. Another figure worth noting is that 20 percent of America’s households have income at or above that level. Based on the cost of purchasing a home or condo in Palm Beach, I’m guessing the income levels of many here far exceed $150,000 a year.

So why aren’t they shopping?

According to one source in that story: “It’s not that they don’t want to spend the money,” said Joyce Neave, a personal shopper based in Bethesda. “They just don’t want to spend it wrong.”

Another reason: people aren’t feeling as wealthy as they were a few years ago. Still another, the wealthy don’t really need anything.

Again from that piece: “The affluent customer does not really need anything,” Neiman Marcus chief executive Burton Tansky told investors on a recent conference call. “She has always shopped for want.”

If “want” is all that the wealthy shopper wants, it’s time to bring back the wanting and hit the streets. The shops along County Road, Worth Avenue and the Via’s are wanting you too. Shopkeepers are wanting to see you walk in then walk out with bundles filled with their merchandise. So, wealthy household people, go out and do the want thing you do so well. It will make you feel good—shopping often does—and think of the world of good you’ll be doing the economy. You do, after all, control a large portion of it.

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

[ top ]