Economic Research and Retail Shopping

Mrs. Big Picture is smart enough to know that when she wants to go
shopping, she best not call it that if she wants me to come along. So
the clever lass has taken to calling sport shopping "Economic Research."

I do this sort of "research" every week.

That’s why I laughed on Tuesday night, when Noah Blackstein busted my chops for shopping at Sears (I’ve been a Land’s End client for years). While I was there, I looked at appliances, lawn mowers, plasmas, and Levis. On a Saturday afternoon, tumbleweeds rolled by — the store was totally empty.

I have the same routine every time I visit a store: I look at the merchandise, see how well the store is stocked, merchandised, organized, cleaned, etc. Typical Peter Lynch stuff. I lurk around, watching other customers interact with store employees. I often buy something, if only to return it and see how the process is. (A pair of Levis went back to Sears 3X — they were defective and split in the wash).

Over the past month, I have been to the following stores:

Public
Target (TGT)
Home Depot (HD)
Lowes (LOW)
Best Buy (BBY)
Circuit City (CC)
Ralph Lauren Polo (RL)
Macys (M)
Apple (AAPL)
BJs (BJ)
Nordstrom (JWN)
Starbucks (SBUX)
Smith & Wollensky (SWRG)
Saks Fifth Avenue (SKS)
Pottery Barn (WSM)
Coach (COH)
Williams Sonoma (WSM)
Gap (GPS)
Sears (SHLD)
Blockbuster (BBI)

Online
Netflix (NFLX)
Amazon (AMZN)
EBay (EBAY)

Private:
Fortunoffs
Lord & Taylor
Century 21
Barneys (formerly BNNY)

Autos
Toyota
Acura
Chrysler
Nissan
BMW

That doesn’t count all the small mom and pop stores and restaurants.

Over that period, I purchased items at Home Depot and Lowes (all sorts of stuff), Fortunoffs, Target, Polo, Century 21 (my Ted Baker ties come from there as well as Saks and Ebay), Lord & Taylor, Amazon (books and DVDs/CDs), and an auto dealer (I used Swapalease.com to replace the wifes RX8). Oh, and I got a new keyboard at Apple.

I avoid Wal-Mart (WMT) in NY, as the stores are these horrific garish fluorescent nightmares. In California, where they seem to be open til midnight or even 24 hours, I have made emergency/lost luggage purchases at the only slightly less ugly versions. I cannot recall the last time I was in a K-Mart (SHLD), but many years ago they wrere the only big box retailer in the Hamptons/Riverhead.

~~~

Sandy in comments asks: Aside from Sears, how does everything else look?

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Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave . . .

When we practise to blog! (With all due apologies to Sir Walter Scott).

This very cool java app is a relational toy from Touchgraph. They use Google’s network of connectivity between websites to display what sites you are connected to:

I get different responses depending upon whether I use the top level URL (http://bigpicture.typepad.com/) or the sub-levels (Real Estate, Economy, etc.)

This is the bigpicture.typepad.com/comments. Note the middle left side purple are DRM/digital media related links, while the bottom center green  all Housing related. Economics gets kinda buried in the center pile.

Tbp_touchgraph

(FYI: I seem to make it crash every 3rd request, but I run a dozen apps at once . . .)

Years ago, I looked at a very cool software company that did something very similar to this. Gotta dig that up . . .

via Econbrowser

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