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Thoughts from the Recession

What changes in consumer spending habits do you see as providing retailers and manufacturers with the most opportunity? Which habits do you think will stick around once the economy improves, and which won’t? [More…]

RetailWire’s Al McLain has asked, “What changes in consumer spending habits do you see as providing retailers and manufacturers with the most opportunity? Which habits do you think will stick around once the economy improves, and which won’t?”

Well, “the only thing certain (and permanent) in life is death…”

Economic changes – including recessions – are not permanent (unless the society itself collapses), so the market mood will shift towards spending again.

Consumer sentiment may not lead the recovery but is likely to follow it. Given that, value-consciousness will stick, even after the market turns upwards. So my reading is that private label will continue to grow, people will continue to think harder about spending on big-ticket items, deals & coupons will continue to work.

Carol Spieckerman, a RetailWire panelist, made a comment about consumer spending not returning to where it was. To that I would add this thought and question: even in these recessionary days, the average American and European household consumes more (and is more wasteful) than even the wealthier households in the so-called developing or less developed economies. What if the average American consumer begins to find out that s/he can cut back even more than s/he already has? What would that do to the traditional business and economic model?

And once that consumer role model is demolished, what would that mean for the world at large and the developing economies that have been following the “consumption-led growth model”?

Obviously, this is not a foregone conclusion, but it’s a scenario worth pondering and preparing for. And some might say, perhaps a scenario even worth encouraging.

(Here are more thoughts and commentary from the RetailWire Braintrust and others readers on Lessons from the IRI Retail-CPG Summit.)

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