Is it possible? Can this country’s insatiable appetite for consumer goods be slowing down? No! Surely not! US News & World Report’s Alpha Consumer, Kimberly Palmer took a look at consumer demand and its relationship to cheap credit.
Only twice since 1965, despite half a dozen recessions, have Americans spent less in a year than the previous one. Indeed, it often seems that we have defined ourselves by our ability to buy supersized everything, from McMansions to tricked-out SUVs to 60-inch flat-screen televisions—all enabled by decades of cheap credit.
Now that the credit party is over, how are consumers reacting?
“The process of bringing our wants and our needs into realignment,” says Merrill Lynch economist David Rosenberg, “is going to involve years of savings and frugality.” Or, to put more it more simply, “there is an anti-bling thing going on,” says Marian Salzman, chief marketing officer of Porter Novelli.
Of course, if you’re broke and have no access to credit you don’t have much choice but to be frugal, but is that all that’s going on here? Or are consumers tired of being pressured to take on massive debt in order to “super size” and “bling” everything? What do you think? Is credit card consumerism over?
Is Starbucks’ “free refills” offer the new “super size it”?
(Full disclosure: I’m quoted in the article, and yes… yes my first car was a Geo Metro. It’s true. Despite what “FreeCreditReport.com” would have you believe, some people do choose to drive them. And they also get their credit reports from www.annualcreditreport.com.)