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Lucking into Consumer Surplus in NYC Today

November 18th, 2009 . by economistmom

xmas-tree-rockefeller-center-swarovski-star-111809

I’m in New York City today for the Concord Coalition’s annual fundraising dinner that’s tonight.  When I come to NYC I come fully prepared to face higher prices than I normally have to pay back in the DC area.  But I’m “lucking” into collecting a lot of “consumer surplus” today (the excess of what I’m willing to pay over what I actually paid).  First, I was the last of the Concord employees in line to get our rooms at 3 pm, and they ran out of regular rooms and so just gave me this extra-big suite.  Second, I went shopping before checking into the hotel (perhaps the factor that caused me to be last in line) and decided to buy a sweater from a chain store that I realized I could pay less for back in northern Virginia, given that VA is a low-tax state relative to NY.  But instead, I go to the checkout counter to discover that there’s NO sales tax on apparel less than $110 in NYC–and that’s not just this week, but all the time here.  So I got a suite for a regular room rate, and an NYC-purchased sweater for (only) the price on the tag.  I figured out that’s worth about $90 of extra consumer surplus beyond the baseline consumer surplus I would have enjoyed anyway, right there!

Oh, by the way, the photo is taken from my blackberry camera of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, which was being decorated today (see how it’s done, with all that scaffolding?!)… and that’s a huge Swarovski crystal star being hoisted to the top.  Talk about a symbol of surprisingly high consumer surplus!

3 Responses to “Lucking into Consumer Surplus in NYC Today”

  1. comment number 1 by: Brooks

    Diane,

    Smart-shopping New Yorkers know to head downtown to Century 21 Department Store (if you have time) http://www.c21stores.com

  2. comment number 2 by: Brooks

    Oh, and if you haven’t already, the my two recommended activities at Rockefeller Center are (1) Going to the “Top of the Rock” http://www.topoftherocknyc.com/ and (2) going into Brookstone and pretending to be interested in the Panasonic massage chair and “trying it” for a while.

  3. comment number 3 by: Mary

    If all your purchases from out of state vendors total over $100 in 2009, don’t forget the use tax on your sweater!

    http://www.tax.virginia.gov/taxforms/Individual/Income%20Tax/2007/CU-7%20and%20Instructions.pdf