A New Zeitgeist?

Two articles in two very different publications popped up in my feed yesterday, but they both called a new “trend”: People are buying less stuff. The New York Times pegs this novel plan to budget for purchases as the result of the whole subprime crisis and massive credit card debts. BusinessWeek ties it to customers shopping “greener”, then to subprime fallout, then finally to how this new thriftiness could tank the economy just when the President and Congress want to urge consumer spending to get us through the recession we may or may not be in.

A subtext in each article also pointed to fewer people trying to consume conspicuously- sales of the mid-tier luxury goods are falling,  and people say they care less about the labels on their clothes. (On a side note, I found this article on why people consume things loudly in the first place pretty fascinating.)

So that’s a thing.  Are people really buying less?  Are we buying less because we’re more concerned about the effect of our consumption on the planet?  Or are we buying less because we’re more concerned about the effect of our consumption on our pockets?  Is our economy’s burp going to propel consumers down the path to more thoughtful spending on resources?  Will any of these “trends” last past the recession?

*In solemn news anchor tone* One thing is for sure: only time will tell.

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