Free champagne at Nordstroms sounds simply divine, doesn't it? Purchasing $1,000 handbags, $300 designer scarves and obscenely priced cosmetics may not be what you're used to ... but would you feel differently after five glasses of champagne? Would your frugal tendencies be a little more uninhibited with all those wonderful little bubbles going straight to your head, clouding any budgetary judgement you've tried sticking to?
Stores like Nordstroms have been doing this for awhile (you need to be one of their "2nd level shoppers" or whatever it's called, yours truly is in the club), but it seems that offering alcohol to shoppers is a growing trend by retailers to decrease your rationality, increase your impulsivity and at least make you linger longer than normal.
In a Wall Street Journal article specifically dealing with male shoppers, "The recession is driving stores to search for anything that gives them even a small edge over rivals. And generally slower traffic gives sales staff more time to offer drinks and talk with shoppers."
According to one storeowner quoted in the story, "Offering alcohol puts men at ease. I wanted it to be like you're going to your best guy friend's house, a guy friend who has great style." Um, yeah, but your best guy friend isn't deceptively making their home more inviting so that you'll shell over $300 for a new pair of jeans. If so, then that's one expensive drink.
FYI, the cost of purchasing alcohol for stores is minimal, especially compared to other brand-building efforts like advertising, so I get it, it works. And I really can't complain when someone offers me a free cocktail, but it's just something to be mindful of if your spending is already out of control.
As Love said (after reading the WSJ article): "If I only had $200 for a pair of jeans, then I too could have a beer (wait a minute . . . )".