With the recession hitting hard in real life there is bound to be a knock on effect in Second Life. Although the exchange rate for real money into Linden dollars is very good, people who are really badly off will still think about cutting back on what they spend in SL. While all this is going on I am surprised to see how many SL shops are now charging way over the top for their items, including some of the fashion stores who had reasonably priced items before. I realise that a lot of hard work goes into designing and producing goods for sale, but you have to consider how many avatars actually have money to spend, and in what proportions. I would expect to pay a lot of Lindens for a really well designed dress for example, which is well made and has detailed textures and some of the top designers are right to put the high price tags on such unique items. However, for run of the mill, day to day fashion wear, I think the prices should be kept as low as possible. In my opinion the shops who have doubled or trebled what they charge recently will price themselves out of business before too long, and people will just shop around for cheaper outfits. We are lucky in SL London that the majority of shops do actually sell their wares for affordable prices. There are some, however that do seem to charge a little too much and I wonder if they might sell more items by lowering their prices just a bit.
I know that the rent money for shopkeepers plays a large part in setting their prices, and along with rent for homes, perhaps the whole scale of rental prices should be looked at to give people a chance to set up their SL London business or rent that home that they keep looking at, but just can’t afford. I met a visitor to SL London a couple of months ago, he was a gifted builder and designer, he made a great range of products, including cuddly toys, pets and jewellery. I asked him if he would open a business in SL London and told me that the rent was too high for him to consider a shop there. Our loss!! I’m sure his shop would have done well for Christmas gifts etc. Perhaps a small ‘token’ shop rent for a couple of weeks, until businesses get established, might be a good idea, On the downside, I know some people would open for a couple of weeks and then move out, but at least a shop space is filled and if it has a good turnover I am sure the shopkeeper would stay.
Same with homes, we have plenty of people coming into London looking for homes as it’s a lovely place to live, and I would think that ten houses occupied for a rent as low as 300 Lindens a week each would be better than only two houses occupied for 600 Lindens a week, and the rest left empty. Yes 300 a week is peanuts to take as rent, but with enough people affording it in the beginning and filling the properties the prices could be increased a little at a time to test the water. Even some newbies may be able to afford this, which would be great as most of them arrive in London wanting to know how to get a place to live. I know SL London do run an excellent scheme with temporary free homes for some lucky newbies for their first couple of weeks, but from there they need cheap accommodation to move into, this would make sure they stayed based in the London sim as well. Perhaps a virtual council estate is needed, without the ASBO kids on the street corner!! Today's newbie maybe tomorrow's big spender!!!
The real life economy will pick up, it has to at some time in the future, but I think we have to consider what people can afford at the present time, by gaining confidence and letting people pay just a small amount in the beginning, say for renting a small terraced SL house, when the time is right and they can afford to pay more, they will want to upgrade their SL London residence to a more expensive property, and by then the virtual capital will be their home and the place they want to be.