columnfinal.jpgGemma Cartwright writes...

You can't go five minutes without hearing about the economic crisis. The words 'credit' and 'crunch' have become lodged in our brains, making us think about the repercussions every time we look at a party dress or consider a new pair of shoes. But shops still need to make money, which is why the Christmas consumer fight this year has been worse than ever. If you thought November - unofficial 'voucher month' - was good for saving money, it looks like December is going to blow all that out of the water. Along with the 2.5% VAT cut, there are discounts to be had just about everywhere. Constant 20% off days, pre-Christmas sales, special events, 'customer evenings' and all kinds of other things tempt us into spending.

But we're meant to be saving money, right?

This is the irony with a crisis like this. People get scared and save, but by not spending and supporting the economy, they're actually making it worse. The terrible food chain of production to consumption means we're all relying on each other to keep things going.

Of couse, I'm not suggesting we all go out and spend cash just for the sake of it. I for one have had to budget, not just as a result of the general 'tightening of the belts' that's happened across the country, but because I made the decision to move from a cheap houseshare to an expensive flat just as the big economic bubble burst. Great for my landlady, not so great for my bank balance at the end of each month.

As a result, Christmas this year will be more streamlined than ever before. We're talking secret santas, 'we're too old for this, aren't we?' emails, knitted gifts and giving in to my grandmother when she says she really, really doesn't want anything this year (chocolates it is, then).

As for buying all these brilliantly priced clothes, well. I've not bought a single thing. Oh, except that Vivien of Holloway dress in the sale. Erm, and the tuxedo jacket in Primark last night. Uh, and the 80s Flora Kung silk dress I just got on eBay for a tenner. And the Threadless $5 sale t-shirt. And...

Well, you get the picture. But they were cheap, right?!