It’s only the beginning of the month but if we’re to go by the super discounts at stores, it’s as though Christmas has already arrived. Last week in New York, I went to my usual stops: Bergdorf, Barneys, Stella McCartney, Kirna Zabete and If Boutique and sales were in full effect, with discounts as high as 40%. For those stores I didn’t have time to visits, those sales rep were blowing up my phone line and whispering about private sales for preferred clients with discounts running as high as 60%. Then there were the sample sales: Tim Hamilton, Yigal Azourel, Surface To Air, shopping with huge reductions is the big trend this season. And these discounts are not limited to New York. I arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday to work with a few clients here and I was met with the same situation at my usual haunts: Weathervane, Saks, Prada, et al were all selling at reduced prices. We all know that the economic downturn is responsible for the jittery climate where it’s better to sell (even at reduced margins) than to have no sales at all. One effect of this price-conscious consuming is the greater scrutiny of how much clothing and accessories actually cost. When the dough is rolling in, $1700 four-ply cashmere sweaters is no big whoop, but when you don’t know if you’ll have a job next week, such a price tag only result in sticker shock. Will things go back to “normal” when the economy bounces back? Historically it has, for the moment though, bring on the super discounts.