Journalist Ellwood (The Rough Guide to Miami and South Florida, 2008, etc.) offers an in-depth account of how American consumer culture has become permanently discount-driven.
Opening with a joke that his name should have been "Markdown" instead of Mark due to his parents' love of bargains, the author continuously interweaves levity and behind-the-scenes stories into his report on what he calls "Shopping 3.0." He claims that this phase in retail shopping stems from oversupply and underdemand; "another fitting name for bargain fever," he writes, "could be Too Much Stuff Syndrome." One highlight includes research proving that buying something for a discount spikes the brain's production of dopamine, thereby boosting happiness. Ellwood also explains that stores often display a few items with staggering price tags for the sole reason that the contrast leads customers to view everything else as more affordable. In addition to price consulting, the author examines the impact of coupons, from the first one ("Free Tickets" presented by Coca-Cola) to the cultlike community of "extreme couponing." He touches on subjects ranging from sample sales of high-end fashion, both in person as well as online, to what paved the way for Groupon's e-commerce success and the company's effects on small businesses. He personalizes statistics underscoring this climate of increasingly savvy shoppers and merchants with myriad tales from around the world that entertain and inform in equal measure, and he successfully argues that there's never been a better time to be a buyer and examines how best to evolve from here, from both a shopper's and a seller's perspective. “No one should pay full price for anything, ever again,” he writes in conclusion. “Yes, that includes you.”
An eye-opening, readable examination of the world of bargain shopping in today’s retail world.