The power is yours! Prices are slashed, you can return anything, you can haggle for discounts. Designer gear was flying off the racks at Barneys this weekend. It's all so tragic!

The labels are not essential. They're not going to make you happy, even at 75 percent off!

One of the refreshing things about a recession, or at least about the last one, is that everyone remembers money is overrated and ceases their most conspicuous consumption.

Maybe it's a mark of the desperation and panic in the air that this cleansing process isn't happening this time around. The rich have their secret stores, and the poors have their sales. Reports the AP:

More and more consumers are... treating a trip to the mall like a visit to the used car lot.

Allen Chen, a part-time cashier at a J. Crew store in White Plains, N.Y., said shoppers with two-month-old receipts are asking for partial refunds for items now on sale. Normally, the store's policy is to refund the difference between an item's purchase price and a later sale price only if it goes on sale within seven days of the purchase.

"When I tell them it is past the seven-day policy, they tell me that they will just return it and re-buy it" at the sale price, he said, adding that his store managers are now allowing customers to do so most of the time.

Shoppers are also being far more savvy about asking retailers to match a competitor's lower price.

...Jill duPont the owner of a small women's clothing and accessories boutique called Out of the Box in Greenwich, Conn., said she's felt some pressure to mark her prices down to be competitive with others.

"Customers aren't shy about telling us 'what a good price' they found somewhere else," she said.

It's all very desperate. Consumers may be cutting back, but they're still shopping, clinging on to one last, relatively normal Christmas. It's in no one's interests to stop them, except their own.