Consumer Cutbacks: Look Who's Benefiting

As Americans trade down on brands, switch to discount stores, and buy on layaway, it's not just Wal-Mart that's winning business

Elissa Montas, a 30-year-old freelance writer in New York, is shopping more often at general-goods discounters, the kind of stores that peddle everything from candles to baking pans to suitcases. She's also doing her holiday shopping early so she can budget better and exploit sales. "There'll be no retail therapy for me this year," Montas says, lamenting the fact that her wardrobe won't see many additions. Instead, she's hunting bargains for two new babies in her family as she pores over discounted children's DVDs. Montas and her friends are also sharing coupons for such stores as Gap (GPS), Banana Republic, and Lord & Taylor. Those coupons have been circulating in recent days via e-mail. "It's not glamorous, but it's what's happening," she says.

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