Tight times boost over-the-counter sales - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tight times boost over-the-counter sales

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

January 27, 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A new study shows consumer confidence is at an all time low, but some South Georgia stores report their business is growing.  

Even though unemployment is rising and people are holding on to their money, there are some products people can't seem to do without.   They're finding ways to cut corners to pay for them.  

Sales at Doc Heilinbel's pharmacy in Albany are booming. Up 48 percent last month compared to last year's over the counter sales. Pharmacist Chris Cleveland's opinion is in demand.

"I have been asked a lot of questions,"  Cleveland said.

While pharmacy sales are down, over the counter medications and alternative therapies have skyrocketed.

"People are coming in asking more questions about trying to treat a sinus infection, or cough and cold. I think maybe people are trying to hopefully cut down on a Doctor visit if possible," Cleveland said.

National retailers say sales of medicines and personal care items like shaving cream, shampoo, and soap have increased in the last year by more than ten percent.

Retailers say what is really selling is technology that gives people a sense of escape. Videogames have seen a 14% increased in sales. South Georgia stores tell us they have a hard time keeping Wii systems and popular games in stock.

Big screen TV's, Smart phones and laptop computers have also seen big sales increases, with consumers thirsty for fun while stuck at home during the recession.

Cleveland thinks his sales will increase as more people are laid off.

"I think there is not going to be much choice. Because when they lose their job they are losing their medical coverage a lot of times. So they are going to be forced to pinch where they can."

Retailers say many shoppers are abandoning brand loyalty during tough times, many times going for the cheapest costing item.

Researchers say even many people who are cutting out luxury items are keeping their health gym memberships to stay healthy during bad economic times.

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