Wednesday, January 31, 2007

SALES! Consumerism? or Consumer's Paronia?

Winter sales! Discounts is everywhere. Aanbieding and Opruiming!(Sale!). Alles moet weg! (Everything must be sold!) Executive uitverkoop! 50% - 70 % Korting! All these phrases are in the promotional papers and display windows of stores. From householdwares, clothes & accessories, computer and electronics, mattress, meat and veggies, dog food, toilettres and cosmetics, kid's paraphernalias, it and you will pay it!

Pretty much everything in the store is on sale. Don’t you just love January???

Everywhere you go, signs beckon you to come to big sales. Walk through the streets and the word “Sale” is displayed prominently in dozens of stores. With so many stores holding sales, is the shopping field rife with bargains?

What is it that makes people crazy about? SALES. What is it? It is buying an item less than the present fair market value. A deduction from difference between the sales price and the original selling price.

Savvy shopper is now back from holidays, shopping out with a vengeance. It seems to suggest that people treated the weekdays, as shopping days, and Saturdays as their even bankbreaking days.

Whenever koopzondag (Sunday sales) is, shoppers prompting early morning queues across the centers as consumers hunted for bargains.

From hitting the mall with your friends on a Saturday afternoon, to unplanned holiday spending on gifts, shopping could be called one of girl's favorite pastimes. For most people, it means some new clothes for work or a small trinket for a friend. For others, however, shopping is much more than an enjoyable pastime, and in some cases, it is a real and destructive addiction that can turn into a financial disaster. But that's only when you do it as an unseasonal habit. In this time of year, let's go check, what is it in a sale.

Naturally, you can earn more value of your money by exchange of goods or commodities in lesser amount. Winter sales is consider as an inventory sale. Here you can buy stuff that were not sold during their specific sale time. That is another thing different from a one-type of weather season country just like the Philippines. In a four-season country just like the Netherlands, here you can find different things good for every season. When new season comes, all things especially in fashion or home decors and accessories also vary. So if you are a shop owner, you have to sale things out of business necessity, to start over a new inventory.

Well, you think sellers are charity? They can also gain out of their sales. Business is business. Items are sold in depreciating value, however, businessmen incur gain on the difference between the sales price and the cost basis allocated to the sale element. (this is what i remembered in my economics...correct me whatever...) They are taxed on sale proceeds (capital gains). So, tax deduction is based on value of property and sales prices and from there they can avoid of capital gains tax. Well, I'm just saying this, just to remind shoppers, that we are not the one who are actually gainers, but shop owners are the one who profit most. Sometimes, shoppers may think that they bought something out of charity, and they grab the chance till the supply last.

Shopping business and retailers have had a brisk start to their winter sales and will be repeated even during summer sales, ├žoz of some shopping "madness" in their busiest trading day of the year.

Another thing that attract window shoppers, just like me, is the fractional prices suggest to consumers that goods are marked at the lowest possible price. Now that consumers are used to psychological prices, other prices look odd. Do you think it's one way of consumerism? Well, this is a broad subject that till now, numbers of issues raised above debates and even protests. I'll keep my mouth shut here!

Here we go...I can't resist. Let's observe the word consumerism. As I see, we, the consumers are created through extensive advertising and media influence, rather than arising from our own natural ideas regarding the kinds of things we need. (I am not an anti-consumerist per see). In other words, consumerism is an artificial creation sustained by artificial social pressures. When it comes to sale bargaining...indirectly, a way of redirecting consumers to a so called market pressure value.

In many contexts, consumerism is used to describe the tendency of people to identify strongly with products or services they consume. Especially those with commercial top brand names and obvious status-enhancing appeal, e.g. an expensive automobile, rich jewelry, so on and so forth. Back to consumerism, many luxuries and unnecessary consumer products are social signals that allow people to identify like-minded individuals through consumption and display of similar products. Some believe that relationships with a product or brand name are substitutes for the healthy human relationships lacking in dysfunctional modern societies and along with consumerism itself are part of the general process of social control and cultural hegemony in modern society. A culture that is permeated by consumerism can be referred to as a consumer culture. I think I am not. I am not collecting items, that just for the goodness sake for 'social appeals'. I am mentioning this, since the idea of bargaining is also giving an implication of attracting consumers in an unhealthy propaganda.

In other words, Sales is a marketing strategy that makes consumers paranoid. (Excuse me of my term but this will apply for irrational buyers huh!).
Impulse buyers who cannot resist spending money are commonly termed shopaholics. Yes, you can see these people walking around the corners. Actually, I'm one of those 'windowholics'.

Ok. I think I am now turning your heads out there trying to understand what I am trying to say. Let's not be too critical here and let's go through how we observe during Big Sales! When a dollar or euro store has a .70 cent bonanza blowout sale, can it really be called a bonanza blowout sale? A savings of 30 cents on a euro/dollar or peso etc., is hardly what I call a sale, let along a blowout sale. The crazy thing was, the store was packed. People were bumping into each other nearly fighting over the stuff. I had to ask myself in the middle of a frenzy of mad shoppers, is any of this crap worth a euro let alone a 70 cents?

Well, for many people, shopping is just a pleasure and for some is luxury and some is necessity. Whatever it is, for me it is fun. It's like unwinding, seeing people around in busy corners. I may spend or not, I feel like I earned something. Walking along the cobbelstreets is just like picking up a single coin of integration. It's nice to feel and assimilated with the locals. I feel attached in some way and give me comfort due to familiarity. Every once in a while you find a good deal, too good to turn down and there are times when you need to build a shoe wardrobe without breaking the bank. That is if you are even careful and be a wise buyer.

I’m sure that there are lots of little ways to stretch your euros to make shopping even more fun. Just don't forget, that what you also try to save might compromise the quality of the goods and commodities you like to buy.
I already had fun in the busy shopping galore of Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rijswijk and of course in Delft. Luckily, I'm not yet broke. :-) ( 'coz I'm just busy adding items in my list...beware for the giver :-) hehehe!

This photo was in Kalveerstraat, Amsterdam.

At this moment, sales is nearly extended in February. It's happy Hearts Day, which means, arising of price.

So, what are you waiting for? Run, and start sighting for gifts. BRING your list with you to avoid unnecessary shoppings. Avoid panic buying. And try not to be tempted with those ambiguous sale tactics. Always remember, that bargain sales items are goods not being sold at their specific time of demand. Meaning, you have to think if the item has still a purpose fo you and not just because it is ON Sale!

Happy shopping :-)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Christmas 2006, New Year 2007: A Retrospect

I've been inside in my shell hibernating (as they say) for the past few weeks. I was tired to tap the keyboard to blog about my daily musings. At this time of the day, the weather is again frightening to me, with a windblast of 110-130km/hr, that brought me here promptly in the desk to type. If the weather is just as nice from what I "consider nice", my bike will already bring me to somewhere. But today, I just stayed foot and busy my fingers in the keyboard while listening to a Christian music.

We had a nice Christmas party last December after attending the "kerstnachtdienst" (x'mas eve mass). Our home was warmed by friends starting from Christmas eve until the first day of X'mas.

Our table was overflowed by food (which normally Filipinos do).

What is that on the left side?? Ummhh...just a shot of tequila...

We exchanged gifts and played kolonisten. It was a wonderful time celebrating the yuletide season.

Here's the man who kissed me under the X'mas tree :-). He was dragging the sack of gifts.

I had a two-week vacation to feel the air of Christmas. It was also a time to celebrate it was because I passed my exam for my Dutch course. (At last! I'm now on my way to level 3).

(the right side photo) Here we are! Lyn, Vicky & me during X'mas.

We welcomed the new year with peace, love and joy. We still shared it with friends.

Me and Vicky during the New Year's Eve. You might think there's fire behind us.

We were cheered by illuminous lights of fireworks display right in our terrace. It was a brighter sky filled with colorful lights just on time that rain halted from pouring.

Fireworks display. A view from our terrace.

I think I saw thousands of euros bursting and blowing to the atmosphere to think how much it cost every firework or explosives. The night was splendid compared the past year which was very dark, gloomy and icy.

More fireworks show.

We missed "white christmas" since, according to the weather authorities here, this winter season is the warmest ever recorded. There are no snowballs, no flakes, no hales, and no snow. Huh! I am desperately hoping for them..... By February, which will be the coldest month of the winter...might have a pound chance of snowfall, so, I would really get ready for it.

Many things had changed. Time runs so fast. As fast as how the Nederlands weather change from black to white, and from gray to bright. In a minute you are hardly biking against the the next tick, you found yourself pushed by the wind and arrived to your destination a minute earlier :-) You leave home at your nicest posture, and came back home, soaked and wet. :-) You put your facial colors on, using the famous make-up brands, but just end up retouching more than it is necessary. Is it ironic? Yeah, I'm just trying to say that in some instances, things just changed without you saying yes or no. It just happened and you have nothing to do about it but to face and deal with it. I am not strong...but during the times that we are weak...I realized that's the time that you will become strong.

I am slowly stitching my thread to create a good fabric of life. It might be a difficult cross-stitch, but, I need to get through with it. I am rest assured that for how many times of threads I got wasted from trying, still HE will remain my Provider, giving me more colorful threads to choose from, making an embroidered or an unembroidered piece of life.

Another fireworks...(fireworks photos were courtesy of Don, our friend).

At this time of new year, I missed many things and many people. However, I am a little bit adjusted here and happy, embracing my new environment. One year had past...and one more year to go...I think I will be just more integrated here. I will keep my fingers crossed and pray for strength not only for me and Ian, but for my whole family here and my family out there in the Philippines.

I am wishing a peaceful new year to everyone!