Penny Pinching May Linger Long After Recession

Lasting change for once-insatiable American consumers?
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2009 6:40 AM CDT
A row of Hormel Chili--a product that thrives in a bad economy-- is shown on a supermarket shelf in North Andover, Mass. Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009.    (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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(Newser) – The Great Recession is loosening its grip on Americans, but the spirit of thrift it inspired isn't, reports the New York Times. Consumer spending, which until recently accounted for 70% of US economic activity, looks unlikely to return to full steam as consumers emerge from the recession cramped by lower home values, lingering debts and scarcity of bank credit.

The recession may have sunk in deep enough to alter spending habits for decades to come. “It’s simply less fun pulling up to the stoplight in a Hummer than it used to be,” says an economist. “It's a change in norms." Another expert sees a "cultural shift going on. People will save more" rather than returning to pedicures, SUVs, and $4 lattes.