Luxury or Necessity? The Public Makes a U-Turn
Rich Morin and Paul Taylor, Pew Research Center, April 23, 2009
Could our current economic recession be beneficial? In several ways, yes. One benefit may be that our gluttonous consumerism will wane. Hopefully the new behaviors will be required long enough to become habits.
It finds that eight-in-ten adults have taken specific steps of one kind or another to economize during these bad times. Almost six-in-ten say they are shopping more in discount stores or are passing up name brands in favor of less expensive varieties. Nearly three-in-ten adults say they’ve cut back spending on alcohol or cigarettes. About one-in-four say they’ve reduced spending on their cable or satellite television service or canceled the service altogether. About one-in-five say they’ve gone with a less expensive cell phone plan, or canceled service.
Our family has done all those things (except reduce spending on alcohol).
These shifts have occurred across-the-board, among adults in all income groups and economic circumstances — perhaps suggesting that consumer reaction to the recession is being driven by specific personal economic hardships as well as by a more pervasive new creed of thrift that has taken hold both among those who’ve been personally affected and those who haven’t.
Hopefully thrift is becoming cool. What surprised me about the survey is that 68 percent of those surveyed think a landline phone is a necessity and only 50 percent say the same about a home computer. I was also surprised to learn that anybody could think a flat-screen television is a necessity. That says a lot about who we are.