I had the pleasure of spending the last two weeks in beautiful Italy, and was able to speak with some locals about their shopping habits. The conclusion was that they shop on more of a day-to-day basis as opposed to buying for longer periods. This includes grocery items (and if I lived in Italy I would shop daily because they have the most wonderful famers markets with the freshest meats, fruits, vegetables, oils, nuts, etc.), as well as non-grocery items (such as shopping at Coin, a big Italian department store, more frequently).
I found this interesting because the Italian economy is in a recession, with GDP dropping 0.2% from the second to the third quarter this year. Despite the recession, consumer spending remains in tact, and most retailers remain profitable. Smaller retailers, such as local jewelers, specialty markets, local tailors, are experiencing the effects of the recession as consumers prefer the larger retailers so the smaller players struggle to stay afloat. One day on my trip, I came across a stitching store. It was tiny, maybe the size of a large closet, and hung on the walls were aprons, bibs, placemats, all with hand stitching of either names or patterns. There was an older woman sitting at a sewing machine working a way so I asked her (in my broken Italian) how business was and if she sells a lot. She said it’s slowed down significantly in the last year because many people, especially younger people, don’t want stitched items. She said many days in the winter (when tourism is down) she doesn’t even open her shop because it’s too expensive to operate when she’s not making any sales. Now compare this to the aforementioned department store, Coin. Coin has 81 stores across Italy, and has had more than 30 million visitors, with over 400,000 Coincard holders (credit card for the store). Every time I walked by a Coin store, it was always crowded with people. From my observation, Coin is similar in fashion and price to Macy’s department store here.
Despite a difficult economy, Italian shopping is plentiful. I am very excited I was able to experience this first hand as a shopper myself, as well as discussing with shoppers and retailers while I was in Italy. My findings were very interesting to me, and I’m glad I am able to share them through this blog.