Well, school starts pretty soon around here, so I have been out looking for school clothes, etc. It might be just in our area, (though I highly doubt it) but it doesn't seem like there are as many really good sales this year as in previous years. For instance, even though there were sales this past weekend, I don't remember seeing any offers on "doorbusters" in the paper,where you save more because you shop early. I went out shopping a couple of times this past week, and I was torn between two schools of thought: a) I need to shop now, so I can find what is needed before everything is picked over, and b) I need to wait because what if they are holding out for a really big sale right before school starts? I went out to see what the current prices are.
To cut to the chase, current prices are much higher than previous prices, even with sales prices. I went to get shoes and fortunately I had a coupon (for 15% off, if memory serves) because we signed up for the store's children's club (a membership that is free, and just allows you to save if you accumulate a certain amount in purchasing in their children's department). That cut even more off a couple of pairs that I bought, and it definitely helped. The sales price was still high, but overall, for the same quality of shoes the prices are comparable just about everywhere I looked. (Yes, I comparison shop. Big-time. :)
During my second trip, high on my list were the prices on shirts. I "stocked up" on jeans at the end of last school year for this year because they were having an excellent sale. I should have checked out their prices anyway, but the main focus at this point was the shirts. Maybe I don't remember previous prices correctly, (always a possibility :) but the prices have jumped to such an extent that the sales price is now more than I think the merchandise is worth. I went to three stores. I didn't find anything worth buying at any price in one. I bought a couple of shirts in the second because it was the last day of a sale, and even though I thought the price was high, I was afraid that I wasn't going to be able to find anything better. In the third store I hit the jackpot--shirts at about $2.00 less than at the other stores, with the added benefit that they were shirts that I figured my children would like to wear. With all of the other expenses associated with starting school, I didn't "stock up" on extra shirts, but it probably would have been a good idea. I got what I thought was needed, and left.
The day that I went shoe shopping, I stopped by a store that was near where I got the shoes, and stopped at another one on the way home (I figured this was a good way to conserve gas :) and was looking at everything in order to compare. There were some shoes that didn't look as sturdy for a cheaper price at one place, and I have no regrets on that, and comparable normal prices for shoes, without the benefit of a sale and/or coupon, at the other. I also looked at clothes for smaller children, and here there was a shock, at least for me. I don't visit the expensive stores very often, unless there is a particular product or sale that I need to make a decision about. So these are not expensive places to start out with, though they apparently are getting that way now.
At one place, there was a great sale on outfits for younger children. I hemmed and hawed, and then bought 3 outfits that will only fit the child they are intended for in the future. The size is too large now, but they will be useable later. It's a hard decision to make when there are so many things that need to be bought now. But when I hit the next store, I was glad about the decision I had made. The outfits weren't identical, of course, but the same kind of outfit cost more than 4 times as much.
My point? ( I always try to have one :) I suppose that the same is true everywhere, ( and if it's not, I 'd like to know where it isn't) but prices are going up on basic necessities, as well as just on food. Taking care of basic necessities is vital during an emergency, and I'm trying to stock up on clothes that will fit in case of an extended emergency. Unfortunately, a personal economic emergency is one example of such a scenario, because it is hard to purchase new clothes when you are in the midst of a financial crisis, and the same is true when there is a national economic emergency, and the prices go up for everyone. So, while stocking up for school, I'm also trying to stock up for future emergencies, with things that will be used whether there is an emergency or not. As a secondary point, sometimes the good prices are out there, if you really look, and don't eat up the money you're saving in gasoline.
Next, it has been suggested to me by my best source (Mom) that I go look for the actual school supplies (paper, crayons, etc.) today. There are some big sales at national chainstores, and because the prices are so good, the items tend to disappear in a hurry. While I am stocking up for school, I plan to go beyond that and stock up on such items for our home storage as well. When the power goes out, or we're evacuating because of a natural disaster, or fill-in-your-emergency here, it might be good for everyone's well-being to have a more normal activity to participate in, like artwork, or even tic-tac-toe. While I'm thinking about preservation, I might as well include efforts to preserve family morale as well, right? :) Just a thought.