Consumers Are Quickly Trading Down

Switch to cheaper goods is broadest since early '80s
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2008 12:26 PM CDT
A customer checks out at WalMart Stores Inc. in Rogers, Arkansas, on Thursday, June 5, 2008.    (AP Photo/April L. Brown)
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(Newser) – As fuel prices and home foreclosures steadily rise, Americans are trading down in everything from automobiles to their lunch options. That's not unusual in an economic downturn, but the speed with which it's happening is, the Wall Street Journal reports. And the flight to the affordable and generic is affecting the broadest array of goods since the recession of the early 1980s.

Visits to department stores are down 6%, while Family Dollar Stores, Wal-Mart and other discount chains saw a 6% jump in sales last month alone. Even the brown-bag lunch is experiencing a renaissance. "There has been a major shift in thinking by shoppers," says a retailing analyst. "Consumers are moving away from availability, to affordability."