Archive for November, 2011

If the American recovery is to recover then retailers and manufacturers need to focus more on innovation.   I got Walmart’s (not that I would ever shop there)  Black Friday Ad in the mail yesterday and it helped confirm my suspicions about part of the problem with the U.S. economy.

The cover page shows a couple of flat panel TVs, Kindle and a laptop.  Pages 2 and 3 continue with more TVs and BluRay players and home theater sound system.  Pages 4 and 5 are more electronic gadgets (cell phones, digital cameras and portable dvd  players).  Pages 6 and 7 are laptops, printers, and more TVs. Pages 8 and 9 have video games.  Pages 10 and 11 have dvds and bicycles.  Pages 12 thru 15 are toys for kids.   The latter pages are for sheets, vacuums, chairs and kitchen stuff.   Finally we come to tools and sports stuff and holiday decorations.

On the surface it looks like there are many great items for sale but if you think about the average middle class family, most probably already have most of this stuff.   How many TV’s do manufacturers and retailers expect Americans to consume?   The same goes for the other items such as digital cameras.   Cell phones have cameras, iPads have cameras and I already own a digital SLR and three (yes 3) portable digital cameras.    Computers and printers?  I have 6 computers and 2 laser printers.  The kids have a Wii and Xbox 360 and gave away our PS2 because there’s only so many video games that can be played in any given day!

Where is the innovation?  Where is the new cool item I should go out and buy?    The kids don’t even know what to ask for Christmas this year because they have everything!  They are literally clueless as to what they should ask for since there is nothing appealing out there for them.

Ironically, I may go super low tech and super cheap and just get my kids trivial stuff like iPhone covers for their new iphones which they seem to love.

No doubt, next year the Black Friday’s ads will show the same array of stuff to buy and I’ll wonder the same thing next year.    If you’re listening out there, please give me something unique, something special, something different.   Oh Steve Jobs why did you have to die!

With Greece about to hose the European Union and the Fed announcing “challenging” economic future and joblessness, I can help explain my personal theory which ties into my Christmas dilemma.

In a nutshell, I don’t have anything to buy this Christmas for my immediate family. We own ipods, ipod touches, iPads, iPhone 4s’, iMacs, MacBooks, 55″ LEDs, Bluray player (which we never use), Netflix, two new cars, a near mortgage free home, and pretty much anything else you can think of: Xbox 360, Wii, etc.

We have so much stuff that much of it sits unused gathering dust. I asked the kids what they want for Christmas and they don’t know.

This brings me to the economy. If this is fairly common amongst my economic group then what more is there to buy? Sure, we could buy all the Apple gadgets in pink, blue, green and blue but that is just a waste of money. Questionably, everything has been a waste of money but I still save nearly 4k per month excess cash in addition to cash reserves, emergency reserves, 401ks, savings, IRAs and other valuable possessions.

The democratization of goods with the advent of capitalism means everything’s gets better, faster, cheaper and more available to everyone. What happens when we buy one of everything?

Where do we go from here? Each new device seems to replace a dozen others and now with Siri maybe I won’t need travel agents, admins, or 411 service, I just ask and I shall receive.