If you truly want to be alone try spending an hour in menswear at Neiman Marcus in Dallas (I needed shoes, what can I say).
The store was empty and the beautifully merchandised departments with the new spring / summer ranges looked as if they were closed. I am guessing the same picture was replicated across the country and represents an America which is either unable or unwilling to spend or, more profoundly, an America that may be in longer term re-appraisal of its needs. It’s possible, is it not, that you can deny yourself a $500 pair of shoes enough times to make you realize that you can always live without them even when you do have the money and, worse still the whole idea of $500 shoes becomes somehow distasteful. Perhaps the concept of mass luxury is dying on its feet.
If this turns out to be true the implications may be interesting for all branches of manufacturing and design with a need to re-orientate to something like creating ‘functional delight’ in which fit for purpose triggers pleasure and satisfaction rather than those elements that comprise what we think of us luxury today.
As a side note to the retail gloom it’s fascinating to note the simultaneous success of WalMart and Hermes who operate at slightly different ends of the market but do so with relentless purpose and focus. They are the exceptions that prove the rule and rather hard to copy. You won’t beat WalMart on logistics and price anymore than you can make any old bag a Birkin!