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Americans Buy $1.2T Worth of Stuff They Don’t Need

That's about 11% of total consumer spending

(Newser) - Ever wonder how much Americans spend on non-essential goodies such as jewelry, yachts, booze, and even candy? A lot, as in $1.2 trillion, or about 11% of total consumer spending, reports the Wall Street Journal . The percentage is up from 9.3% a decade ago and 4% in 1959,... More »

Reasons to Bet Against a Double-Dip Recession

Data don't support hysterical headlines

(Newser) - Fears of a double-dip recession is running high, but economic data suggest that they are unfounded. Writing in the Wall Street Journal , Milton Ezrati of the money management firm Lord Abbett explains:
  1. The consumer is regaining strength: A 1.4% decline in retail sales for May gave rise to double-dip
... More »

Delta Loses Teen's Dog

Offers a $200 credit in return

(Newser) - Don't you hate it when the airline loses your luggage? Now imagine how angry you'd be if that luggage was your pet. That's Josiah Allen's situation. The 19-year-old recently adopted a stray dog in Mexico, then tried to fly home to Canada with him. But when he landed, he discovered... More »

Your Credit Card Is Spying on You

Visa and other companies judge you based on what you buy

(Newser) - Visa knows if you’re going to get a divorce. It knows that you just moved and, most importantly, it knows if you’re going to miss a payment—maybe before you do. Credit card companies have developed eerily accurate models for predicting consumer behavior based on the things they... More »

Now Driving Innovation in India: the Poor

As developed economies slump, it markets directly to the lower class

(Newser) - Indian engineers once did little but cater to Western companies, while consumers at home made do with hand-me-down products from the developed world. That is changing in a big way as foreign economies crater and the 1.1 billion consumers of the subcontinent reveal a taste for, well, consuming. And... More »

Frugal Mainers Easily Weather Economic Storm

(Newser) - A long history of sparse employment and hardships of all stripes has built a culture of frugality that leaves Maine perfectly suited to the current recession, the Boston Globe reports. “Everybody now is into shopping thrift shops, but in most of Maine, people never stopped,” a banker says.... More »

Crocs Scramble to Stay Afloat

Company may go belly up as debt deadline looms

(Newser) - The company that makes the once-ubiquitous, quirky Croc shoes is about to go belly up, experts fear. The Colorado firm lost $18.5 million last year, has a warehouse full of unwanted shoes and just weeks to pay off its debt. Blame it on the economy and fickle consumers. "... More »

Experts Fret as Americans Squirrel Away Income

Savings rate jumps over job, portfolio fears

(Newser) - Even after the economy rebounds, the US will likely remain a nation of penny pinchers—and that has economists worried, the New York Times reports. Consumer spending accounts for 70% of the country’s GDP, but Americans, fretting over job security and losses in the housing and stock sectors, are... More »

Hasbro, Discovery Join to Launch Kids Channel

Toy maker plans to use kids network to promote merchandise

(Newser) - Hasbro and Discovery have struck a deal to revitalize the flagging Discovery Kids Network, the Los Angeles Times reports. Hasbro, manufacturer of Transformers and GI Joe, will buy a 50% stake in Discovery Kids for $300 million. The company plans to emphasize merchandise based on programming on the network, which... More »

Cobblers in Stitches Thanks to Recession

Dwindling trade gets boost as Americans pinch pennies

(Newser) - If this recession reaches Great Depression levels, there may not be enough cobblers to go around. There are only 7,000 of them left in the US—down from 120,000 in the 1920s—and their business is piling up faster than they can manage as strapped Americans repair shoes... More »

Newfound Thrift Battering Economy

Sharp rise in savings rate expected to lengthen recession

(Newser) - Americans worried about the recession are stashing away cash at the highest rate in decades—but economists fear that the thrift will prolong hard times, reports the Wall Street Journal. The national savings rate has rebounded from less than zero to levels expected to hit 5% or higher this year... More »

Credit Relief Flows Slowly—When It Flows at All

Consumer aid package won't budge pickier banks

(Newser) - With hundreds of billions of dollars pumping into the calcified credit markets, many struggling Americans are expecting to see some relief, but many will be disappointed, the New York Times reports. Banks continue to stiffen loan eligibility requirements even as strapped consumers face deteriorating credit scores, and whole categories of... More »

As Deadbeats Soar, Utilities Quick to Pull Plug

As the economy worsens, electric companies get tough on delinquent bills

(Newser) - Utilities are growing increasingly aggressive about shutting off the juice even as more customers struggle to pay their bills in a sinking economy, reports the Wall Street Journal. The trend has regulators and consumer advocates worried companies have become too focused on their bottom lines, but utilities say they’re... More »

Is New iPhone Apple's Vista?

Analyst says continued tech, customer-service turbulence could do real damage

(Newser) - It’s still exceedingly tough to get a new 3G iPhone due to limited supply, and myriad technical problems persist in registering and operating the eagerly awaited gadget. Apple has apologized for the lines, and the bugs in its new syncing software, but one analyst tells USA Today that the... More »

Shopping in US Looks Like the 1970s: Analyst

Automotive industry, discounters predict permanent shift

(Newser) - Retailers and marketers are closely watching American shopping trends, knowing that recession habits can linger for years, the AP reports. Studies show that 63% of Americans have cut down spending by coupon-cutting, biking to work, and buying store brands. They're also buying smaller cars and shopping at discounters. "We... More »

Ads Tap Into That 'Mad-as-Hell' Feeling

Companies use consumer rage to sell

(Newser) - Advertisers are feeling our pain. So they're tapping into consumer rage over rising prices by saying "we understand," and using that to sell products and services. Take a Southwest ad that asks what the competitors have been smoking. "Apparently, your rolled-up $20s," it quips. A legion... More »

Consumers Rattled by 'Green Overload'

Too much information overwhelming even the best intentions

(Newser) - Inundated with reports on how best to save the environment, many consumers are left confused and suffering from an information overload the New York Times dubs “green noise.” Many eco-facts are contradictory and options are puzzling (is it better, for example, to get a used car, or a... More »

Study: Drug Ads Misleading. No, Really.

Big pharma uses tricks, distractions to veil harmful side-effects

(Newser) - Drug ads are multiplying on TV, and manufacturers are starting to advertise medical equipment used in invasive procedures, so now might be a good time to wonder what the spots are telling us. Not as much as they should, Time reports. An independent researcher has found drug companies are using... More »

Haggling Makes a Comeback

Consumers cutting deals as economy slows

(Newser) - Many shoppers might consider haggling a buying technique better suited to a Moroccan carpet bazaar than their local mall, but the practice is picking up steam in the US in the midst of increasing economic woes, reports the Los Angeles Times. Cash-strapped consumers are trying to create bargains rather than... More »

Apple Has Top Brand, World Consumers Say

But survey says Microsoft, USA need to revamp marketing

(Newser) - Apple is the world's "most inspiring brand," as well as the one most consumers say they can't live without, according to a new survey on brand impact. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Microsoft was the brand buyers thought most in need of an overhaul—with the United States as... More »

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