All week long, the Dow's been hitting record lows and every talking head on the news is saying "recession." Yet, Tuesday, Neiman Marcus unveiled its annual Christmas Book, reports MSNBC. Inside? A $160,000 BMW, his and hers life-size Lego replicas at $60,000 each; and the usual $18,000 rings and $5,200 bags.Ginger Reeder, a Neiman vice president, says: "These gifts are not meant to be anything more than something to make you smile, make you go 'Oh my gosh, who would have thought about that?'" Oh, sure, it's all in good fun. But Neiman Marcus reported last month that it lost $35.6 million in the third quarter of the year. Costs were up and sales were down. And that was before the worst of the financial crisis. "We are anticipating the months ahead will be difficult," Chairman and Chief Executive Burt Tansky said, back in early August. What about now? Reeder says of the Neiman Christmas catalog (which is planned a year in advance), "I think we all need a break." And it can be an escape, to lose yourself in pages of luxury items you can't afford. (hence the appeal of Vogue.) But isn't trying to acquire things you don't have the means to purchase how this country ended up in a credit crisis? There's nothing wrong with dreaming. But perhaps the time for conspicuous consumption and lusting after ridiculously expensive material goods has come to an end? I mean: Looking at this Jimmy Choo bag does not make me feel better about my finances. Neiman Marcus Catalog Remains Extravagant [MSNBC]
It's escapism. Neiman's management has mentioned many times that the extravagant gifts they put in here almost never sell. It's publicity for Neimans and dreaming for the reader.
The real problem here is those individuals that don't know the difference between dreaming and overspending in order to buy this stuff and getting in ridiculous debt. Most people didn't get in debt buying Manolo's because Carrie Bradshaw did...but lots of people did. Based on what they saw on television. Somewhere along the way we need to teach people some money management skills and help them get the self esteem to keep them from trying so desparately to keep up with the "Jones" in the mansion down the street.