Consumers Scale Back on Luxuries

Today's shoppers are sacrificing meals out and vacations.

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Here's more evidence that the days of conspicuous consumption are over: The Chicago-based ad agency Cramer-Krasselt recently released a report that identifies a "simplicity movement" and the rise of the "neo-haggler," who negotiates prices on everyday items such as electronics and auto repairs. It also found, somewhat depressingly, that half of those surveyed said they were frustrated with the current economic situation. Some 62 percent said they had to make sacrifices, such as vacations, dining out, and name brands, because of the downturn. It's not exactly the food rations that my grandparents experienced, but, hey, people had gotten used to their luxurious lifestyles.

As we've discussed here before, maybe the dialing back is a good thing for our souls. (John Zogby has suggested as much.) The Cramer-Krasselt report also says people are staying home more, exploring local attractions, and being "choosier" about what products they buy, all of which could be considered improvements.

Among the other highlights of the report:

  • 56 percent of people said they are more price conscious than they used to be
  • 40 percent said they shop around for the best bargain
  • 47 percent said they have been saving "a lot less" than they have in the past
  • 28 percent said they find themselves using credit cards more than in the past
  • 40 percent said they have to take money out of their savings more often
  • 61 percent feel less financially stable than they did a few years ago
  • 56 percent said they have "a great need to get rid of some of the nonessentials in my life."
  • Are you among those who are trying to pare down?