There's a big difference of how most people today shop as compared to their parents (or grandparents) - and that difference is quality vs. quantity.
In this interesting article for MSN Money, Emma Johnson takes a look at her wardrobe and wondered why "our forefathers were poorer than we are, and yet they had better stuff, relatively speaking."
But appreciation for quality craftsmanship has been swept aside by freely available consumer credit and high-end design on low-cost merchandise, says Dayana Yochim, personal finance writer at The Motley Fool.
"Credit cards let us instantly satisfy our retail desires," Yochim says. "Our grandparents had to delay that gratification. They figured that if they had to save for it, they'd better get the best they could. Now retailers want to catch that fleeting desire."
This trend has given birth to the "fast fashion" phenomenon, where retailers like H&M and Forever 21 sell runway rip-offs for pennies on the couture dollar, and consumers wear these garments for a single season before replacing them.