One-Percenters Keep Shopping at the Dollar Store
Kanebridge News
    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,581,977 (+0.10%)       Melbourne $970,512 (+0.23%)       Brisbane $885,023 (+0.03%)       Adelaide $813,016 (+0.20%)       Perth $760,003 (-0.11%)       Hobart $733,438 (-1.28%)       Darwin $643,022 (-0.79%)       Canberra $970,902 (+1.87%)       National $1,000,350 (+0.23%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $721,725 (+0.37%)       Melbourne $488,237 (-0.76%)       Brisbane $495,283 (+1.37%)       Adelaide $404,022 (-2.77%)       Perth $405,420 (-0.69%)       Hobart $498,278 (-1.60%)       Darwin $339,700 (-0.58%)       Canberra $480,910 (-0.04%)       National $502,695 (-0.26%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,626 (-230)       Melbourne 15,220 (+56)       Brisbane 8,417 (-24)       Adelaide 2,720 (-9)       Perth 6,897 (+56)       Hobart 1,234 (+5)       Darwin 281 (+5)       Canberra 1,079 (-30)       National 46,474 (-171)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,563 (-253)       Melbourne 8,007 (-12)       Brisbane 1,824 (-34)       Adelaide 493 (-16)       Perth 1,902 (-1)       Hobart 176 (+4)       Darwin 388 (-7)       Canberra 858 (+2)       National 22,211 (-317)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $775 (-$5)       Melbourne $570 ($0)       Brisbane $600 ($0)       Adelaide $580 (+$10)       Perth $625 (-$5)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $690 (-$10)       Canberra $680 ($0)       National $642 (-$2)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $730 ($0)       Melbourne $550 ($0)       Brisbane $625 ($0)       Adelaide $460 (+$10)       Perth $580 (+$5)       Hobart $460 (+$10)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $560 (-$5)       National $576 (+$2)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,654 (+231)       Melbourne 5,764 (+128)       Brisbane 4,271 (-9)       Adelaide 1,259 (+101)       Perth 1,944 (+50)       Hobart 337 (-36)       Darwin 168 (+19)       Canberra 647 (+18)       National 20,044 (+502)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 9,121 (+505)       Melbourne 6,022 (+34)       Brisbane 2,066 (+18)       Adelaide 366 (+1)       Perth 600 (-5)       Hobart 138 (-17)       Darwin 306 (+12)       Canberra 736 (+20)       National 19,355 (+568)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.55% (↓)       Melbourne 3.05% (↓)       Brisbane 3.53% (↓)     Adelaide 3.71% (↑)        Perth 4.28% (↓)     Hobart 3.90% (↑)        Darwin 5.58% (↓)       Canberra 3.64% (↓)       National 3.34% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.26% (↓)     Melbourne 5.86% (↑)        Brisbane 6.56% (↓)     Adelaide 5.92% (↑)      Perth 7.44% (↑)      Hobart 4.80% (↑)      Darwin 8.42% (↑)        Canberra 6.06% (↓)     National 5.96% (↑)             HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.7% (↑)      Melbourne 0.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.4% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 1.2% (↑)      Hobart 0.6% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.7% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.4% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.3% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 1.5% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)      National 0.9% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND       Sydney 28.0 (↑)      Melbourne 29.2 (↑)        Brisbane 30.6 (↓)       Adelaide 23.8 (↓)     Perth 34.2 (↑)      Hobart 29.4 (↑)      Darwin 39.9 (↑)      Canberra 28.2 (↑)      National 30.4 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND       Sydney 29.4 (↑)      Melbourne 29.6 (↑)        Brisbane 30.3 (↓)       Adelaide 22.5 (↓)       Perth 39.2 (↓)     Hobart 26.1 (↑)        Darwin 36.1 (↓)     Canberra 34.4 (↑)        National 31.0 (↓)           
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One-Percenters Keep Shopping at the Dollar Store

Wealthy consumers scour discount-chain aisles for bargains

Wed, Jun 21, 2023 8:34amGrey Clock 4 min

That Mercedes in the dollar-store parking lot isn’t an illusion.

High-earners joined the rest of the country in flooding discount retailers such as Dollar General, Aldi grocery store and Five Below as prices for food and staples rose. Now, with inflation at half its peak, they aren’t letting up.

InMarket, which tracks retailer foot traffic, measured a 4% average increase in the share of dollar-store visits this year among those making more than $100,000, compared with the second half of 2022. Households with six-figure incomes are 15% more likely to say they would shop at dollar stores than they were last June, going from 39% to 45%, according to daily surveys from Morning Consult of about 50,000 Americans.

Wealthy Americans long viewed discount stores as “not for them,” says Michael Liersch, who consults with high-net-worth individuals as head of advice and planning at Wells Fargo. Yet paying $8 for a carton of eggs struck even many affluent people as ridiculous.

Overspending on things was once fashionable for some, Liersch says. “These days, it’s about making the most of your money and not getting ripped off.”

No matter how much you make, consumers say, there is no longer a stigma in going after a good deal.

Cheap kombucha

Autry Liggett, who works in operations for a Santa Barbara, Calif., hedge fund, exclusively shopped at Whole Foods and other high-end chains for groceries and household goods until recently. Growing up, he says he looked down on what he saw as poor-quality products at discount retailers.

Then, one of his friends brought over a case of 99-cent-store kombucha and probiotic drinks a few months ago. “She makes good money, so I just assumed she also shopped at Whole Foods and the other places I shop,” he says. “I was shocked.”

He now pops into the 99 Cents Only store downtown at least once a week, making sure to visit on Tuesday or Thursday, when they restock, for the best selection. He recently bought vitamins that retail at Whole Foods for $25 for $1.99, and a pint of organic blueberries for 99 cents.

A Dollar General spokeswoman says the brand has attracted and retained higher-income customers lately. A recently updated fresh-produce section, now available in nearly 3,900 stores, might be bringing more customers in.

Plenty of wealthy people point out that they got that way partly by not overspending on the small stuff—especially when it is all the same stuff.

“A carrot is a carrot is a carrot,” says Morgan Pierce, who earns about $200,000 a year working at McDonald’s Chicago corporate office. She frequently hits up Aldi and her local dollar store for groceries and other staples. Her last birthday party featured a private chef—and $1 plates and decorations.

Pierce, who was quick to tell her guests where many of the party supplies came from, says people were impressed. It is a shift from how she felt as a child, when she questioned why her family always had to hunt for sales. Now, she says she realises her mom has always been a bargain hound.

“Not everything on the shelves is well-made, but there are things that are, and I am not ashamed to go into those places and get them, and I’m not afraid to tell people about it,” Pierce says.

Bob Gillman, an executive transition consultant, has shopped at Aldi and other discount chains for decades. He didn’t mention the habit to his friends until recently, when a branch popped up near his tony Palm Springs, Calif., community.

“We see lots of people driving Porsches, Mercedes and BMWs in the parking lot,” Gillman says. “No matter how much you make, you don’t want to spend $4 on an avocado when you can get one for 59 cents.”

Few seem to mind feeding a quarter to check out a shopping cart, or bagging their own groceries, Gillman says.

Gillman’s daughter, Rachel Gillman Rischall, often rolled her eyes at her dad’s zealous discount shopping. That is, until this past year, when her grocery bills soared, and birthday-party gifts for her kids’ friends topped $50 a pop near her Chicago home. Fed up, she checked out the toy selection at Five Below and hasn’t looked back. She also now buys journals, art supplies, stationery and snacks there.

“My dad is so proud,” she says.

Shopping at dollar stores is a choice for some, yet it is a necessity for many, and Americans increasingly get their groceries from these retailers.

Expanding into more-prosperous areas is part of Aldi’s strategy, analysts say. The retailer plans to add 120 new U.S. stores in 2023, after opening and remodelling 139 stores last year. The brand says it attracted 9.4 million new U.S. customers in 2022.

Budget influence

Social media is also helping make dollar and discount stores cool. Videos tagged #dollartree have a combined 7.6 billion views on TikTok. Many feature influencers trying out what are known as dupes of popular high-end beauty products and other goods.

Entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel says her discount and drugstore hauls have attracted more attention than anything she did when she was featured on the reality show “The Real Housewives of New York City.”

“I go in there with my Hermès bag,” says Frankel, whose YouTube and TikTok videos shopping at dollar stores and unboxing ultra cheap products regularly ring up millions of views. She says she isn’t paid by any of the discount chains for her videos.

While some viewers have accused her of pretending to like and use a $1 lip gloss or storage bin when she could easily afford its more expensive counterpart, Frankel says her enthusiasm is genuine.

“What’s the difference between a dollar-store and a $20 pair of flip flops? Is there such a thing as truffle-oil-infused rubber?” she says. Lip gloss, meanwhile, “stays on for five minutes no matter how much you spend.”


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Couples find that lab-grown diamonds make it cheaper to get engaged or upgrade to a bigger ring. But there are rocky moments.

Mon, Dec 11, 2023 4 min

Wedding planner Sterling Boulet has some advice for brides-to-be regarding lab-grown diamonds, which cost a fraction of the natural ones.

“If you’re trying to get your man to propose, they’ll propose faster if you offer this as an option,” says Boulet, of Raleigh, N.C. Recently, she adds, a friend’s fiancé “thanked me the next three times I saw him” for telling him about the cheaper lab-made option.

Man-made diamonds are catching on, despite some lingering stigma. This year was the first time that sales of lab-made and natural mined loose diamonds, primarily used as center stones in engagement rings, were split evenly, according to data from Tenoris, a jewellery and diamond trend-analytics company.

The rise of lab-made stones, however, is bringing up quirks alongside the perks. Now that blingier engagement rings—above two or three carats—are more affordable, more people are dealing with the peculiarities of wearing rather large rocks.

An engagement ring made with a lab-grown diamond at Ada Diamonds in New York City. PHOTO: CAM POLLACK/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Esther Hare, a 5-foot-11-inch former triathlete, sought out a 4.5-carat lab-made oval-shaped diamond to fit her larger hands as a part of her vow renewal in Hawaii last year. It was a far cry from the half-carat ring her husband proposed with more than 25 years ago and the 1.5-carat upgrade they purchased 10 years ago. Hare, 50, who lives in San Jose, Calif., and works in high tech, chose a $40,000 lab-made diamond because “it’s nuts” to have to spend $100,000 on a natural stone. “It had to be big—that was my vision,” she says.

But the size of the ring has made it less practical at times. She doesn’t wear it for athletic training and swaps in her wedding band instead. And she is careful to leave it at home when traveling. “A lot of times I won’t take it on vacation because it’s just a monster,” she says.

The average retail price for a one-carat lab-made loose diamond decreased to $1,426 this year from $3,039 in 2020, according to the Tenoris data. Similar-sized loose natural diamonds cost $5,426 this year, compared with $4,943 in 2020.

Lab-made diamonds have essentially the same chemical makeup as natural ones, and look the same, unless viewed through sophisticated equipment that gauges the characteristics of emitted light.

At Ritani, an online jewellery retailer, lab-made diamond sales make up about 70% of the diamonds sold, up from roughly 30% two years ago, says Juliet Gomes, head of customer service at the company, based in White Plains, N.Y.

Ritani sometimes records videos of the lab-diamonds pinging when exposed to a “diamond tester,” a tool that judges authenticity, to show customers that the man-made rocks behave the same as natural ones. We definitely have some deep conversations with them,” Gomes says.

Not all gem dealers are rolling with these stones.

Philadelphia jeweller Steven Singer only stocks the natural stuff in his store and is planning a February campaign to give about 1,000 one-carat lab-made diamonds away free to prove they are “worthless.” Anyone can sign up online and get one in the mail; even shipping is free. “I’m not selling Frankensteins that were built in a lab,” Singer says.

Some brides are turned off by the larger bling now allowed by the lower prices.When her now-husband proposed with a two-carat lab-grown engagement ring, Tiffany Buchert, 40, was excited about the prospect of marriage—but not about the size of the diamond, which she says struck her as “costume jewellery-ish.”

“I said yes in the moment, of course, I didn’t want it to be weird,” says the physician assistant from West Chester, Pa.

But within weeks, she says, she fessed up, telling her fiancé: “I think I hate this ring.”

The couple returned it and then bought a one-carat natural diamond for more than double the price.

Couples find that lab-grown diamonds have made it more affordable to get engaged. PHOTO: CAM POLLACK/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

When Boulet, the wedding planner in Raleigh, got engaged herself, she was over the moon when her fiancé proposed with a 2.3 carat lab-made diamond ring. “It’s very shiny, we were almost worried it was too shiny and was going to look fake,” she says.

It doesn’t, which presents another issue—looking like someone who really shelled out for jewellery. Boulet will occasionally volunteer that her diamond ring came from a lab.

“I don’t want people to think I’m putting on airs, or trying to be flashier than I am,” she says.

For Daniel Teoh, a 36-year-old software engineer outside of Detroit, buying a cheaper lab-made diamond for his fiancée meant extra room in his $30,000 ring budget.

Instead of a bigger ring, he got her something they could both enjoy. During a walk while on an annual ski trip to South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Teoh popped the question and handed his now-wife a handmade wooden box that included a 2.5-carat lab-made diamond ring—and a car key.

She put on the ring, celebrated with both of their sisters and a friend, who was the unofficial photographer of the happy event, and then they drove back to the house. There, she saw a 1965 Mustang GT coupe in Wimbledon white with red stripes and a bow on top.

Looking back, Teoh says, it was still the diamond that made the big first impression.

“It wasn’t until like 15 minutes later she was like ‘so, what’s with this key?’” he adds.


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Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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