Thursday, February 19, 2009

Consumer Spending Collapse

This is annectdotal to the point of personal.

Since the first of the year, my personal consumer spending has completely collapsed. Ignoring services for the moment, in the last six weeks I have personally spent more on maintenance and repair of existing possessions than I have spent acquiring new stuff. By maintenance and repair I mean tuning a piano, clothing alterations, replacing the broken glass in a picture frame. Most of the money I have spent on clothing represented cashing in a gift card received at Christmas.

This is neither me going broke in a cash since nor the traditional post holiday lull in consumption reflected satiation after the consumption excess of the holidays. We had a very light Christmas, and, though we're suffering with everyone else, we're not in a cash bind. No, as far as I can tell, I'm buying nothing because I'm simply not in the mood to spend. If I go shopping, its to buy groceries. If I go to Home Depot, it's for light bulbs. I am not tempted by the late winter pre-Season discounts on the propane grills. I have enough clothes and other crap to last me for the rest of the year, and then some.

Two slight qualifications. Obviously, we're still buying groceries, paying the utility bills, etc. And, the rest of my family is not quite as retrenched as I am. I think their psychological outlook is not quite so bleak, dark and forboding. I hope they are correct and I'm just over-reacting.

But the reaction is undeniable, and startling.

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