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Bargain-shopping among the rich

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Posted: 6 am ET

One of the fastest-growing segments of the retail industry is on track to have a prosperous holiday season, especially since stores have begun leasing space in more upscale neighborhoods. Consignment and thrift stores that sell used merchandise have proven alluring to those looking to cut back on price but not quality.

According to U.S. Census figures, sales at thrift stores totaled $11.47 billion in the first nine months of 2011, a 26.7 percent increase from the same time period last year.

The recession provided a further boost to the industry because businesses that failed opened up retail space in more upscale locations and landlords often were forced to drop rental prices. Rich shoppers with more money to spend were drawn in to thrift  stores, while at the same time the more prosperous neighborhoods meant stores gained more expensive merchandise to resell.

Some surveys have shown that the rich are leading the spending upswing this holiday season, and they've said that, while they seek value, they won't compromise on quality. What the consignment industry calls "gently-used" merchandise seems to be satisfying both desires. It will be interesting to see if the trend holds once the economy improves.

Do you shop at consignment and thrift stores, and have you found bargains on quality merchandise?

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