Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reflections on Consumer Spending Trends

I read a fun post over at GreenerPastures today on 5 Consumer Trends in the Recession Economy. I found the article on pfbuzz, which is my favorite place for finding new blogs. I always read the folks on my sidebar there and have a few more that I follow and keep up on, but sometimes I get itching to read more. That's when I head over to pfbuzz. If you haven't checked it out already, give it a gander - plus it is a great place to post your own articles.

Anyway, back to the trends - the author of Greener Pastures looked at several areas to see how they were hit by the economy: alcohol, chocolate, movies and gambling. I thought these were fun topics to explore. How has the economy effected your spending in these areas? Here's how my spending has been -

Alcohol - Greener Pastures found that alcohol spending is down. This is one of those tricky ones. On one hand you can see why people who are depressed might have a few extra glasses of wine, but on the other, well, let's face it - booze is expensive. I wonder if people are really buying less or if they are just buying less expensive hooch? For me it is both. The amount that I buy in general is waaaaaay down. When I was married the ex and I would usually have a glass (or two) of wine with dinner each night. If we were out at a restaurant, we would have always have something to drink. As a divorcee my drinking is way down. I buy wine rarely for home consumption and I drink a lot less out than I used to. I still have a beer or two with friends, but I would say that my consumption is about a tenth of what it was. I am also a lot more frugal on what I buy. I used to drink $10 - $15 bottles, now I am more inclined to choose $8-$9 wine. When you are on a limited grocery budget, alcohol can be a big chunk.

Now onto chocolate...

Yum - chocolate! Greener Pastures reports that spending is up. I would say that chocolate and alcohol are both equal in the "guilty pleasure" scale for me, but the advantage of chocolate is that it is so much cheaper. A typical glass of wine will probably run $6, but you can buy a bag of Dove chocolates for less than half of that. Besides, you can buy a candy bar with your spare change - hard to do that with a beer. I love chocolate, though I don't eat a lot of it at one time. I like to break off a piece of a bar of chocolate at a time or have smaller individually wrapped pieces, and make it last. So, I am more likely to have chocolate in the house than booze. My local pharmacy has had some really good deals on chocolate and I admit to indulging in the past. Although, I've been really good this month because it squarely falls under the No Spending Challenge. I wonder if high end chocolate bars have taken a hit? There was a trend there for awhile for $5+ gourmet bars. I have to believe that they've seen sales drop dramatically.

Spending money on attending movies is up. Personally, this isn't true with me. My spending on movies is way down. I really have to make an effort to see a film now - for one thing, I hate the regular prices, so I prefer a matinee, which means planning and scheduling it. For another I am just too busy. I do understand it though - movies are a wonderful form of escapism. What better way to get out of the house and forget your troubles for awhile?

And finally, spending on gambling is down. Although I love the city of Las Vegas, I am not a big gambler. I am kind of surprised by this though. I would have guessed that lotto spending would be way up. Maybe you need to feel confident and good to gamble though, and it doesn't seem to me that that is where people are at right now. Me? I never play the lotto - never have - so my spending, or lack thereof, is the same.

I have also heard that home improvement spending is also down. This is one that at first surprised me. I would have thought more people would be "doing it themselves" rather than hiring work done. Then I realized that people are choosing not to do elective home repair projects - they are waiting on things that aren't emergencies. I can see that, especially as so many Americans are in foreclosure or upside down on their loans. Who wants to work on a house they may not own in a few months? Me, my home improvement spending is probably a bit up, and I see it continuing to do so.

Personally, other than home improvement, I figure my spending overall is going to be down for a long time. Regardless of what happens with the economy, I still have bills to pay and financial projects in mind. Should the recession turn around, it won't considerably change my personal financial picture... of course, that probably won't stop me from indulging in a chocolate bar now and again!

Photo by: Tasumi1968


1 comment:

Kristy @ Master Your Card said...

Let's see -

Booze - Spending is down just because I don't drink a lot anyway, but I haven't been wanting to spend the money on alcohol.

Chocolate - Same. I spend the money when I have a craving, I don't when I'm not in the mood for it.

Movies - Up. I go out to the movies a lot, not to mention what I spend on DVDs and Netflix. But, I LOVE movies and since I'm working on being a screenwriter, I see it as an investment in my future.

Gambling - Down. I used to buy lottery tickets every once in awhile, but I haven't bought one in months. The odds are against me from the start and I just don't have the world's best luck anyway, so I figure I'd do better by saving the money.

Home Improvements - Nonexistent. The joys of apartment living!