Baseball, apple pie and … living beyond our means

Maybe I'm in denial. Maybe. But even with all the craziness surrounding our economic downturn, there is one proposed consequence of the recession that I just can't buy into.

And it comes from this statement made last year by economist Jay Feldman: "The era of consumers living beyond their means is at an end."


Kudos to Paul Leinberger, a brand and marketing expert who spoke last weekend at the Tucker Rocky national sales meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, for bringing this topic up. Leinberger discussed a number of interesting transitions he sees occurring in the marketplace. Notice I said "transitions," meaning actual changes we're collectively making as consumers. Permanent changes. Think of digital photography and you'll really understand the profound significance of a "transition."

But this idea of Americans ending their reliance on credit and suddenly stuffing money under their mattresses again just doesn't jive. Sure, savings as a percentage is up simply because we're worried about our economic well-being.

But is this really a lasting change, a true transition?

If it was, then why would Microsoft suddenly be interested in opening retail locations and why is Apple selling iPhones like crazy? Are those consumers really hording their discretionary dollars for months on end before deciding to dive into their savings?

Doubtful. Impulse buying may be reduced, but it's certainly not dead. Nor is our desire to spend more than we make. Just look at my credit card bill.


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