The Spending Pendulum

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The dark clouds of recession are upon us. People want answers to their quesions. “What’s the Fed going to do about this? Can I sell my house in this market? Will my business fail?”
Business too seeks answers. The Wall Street Journal looks closely at the key retail sector after weak holiday spending.

Chains are slamming the brakes on store openings, cutting back on inventory and girding for leaner times as consumer spending chills. The speed with which sales slowed during the holidays caught even cautious retailers off-guard, prompting a flurry of profit warnings.
And while data on December consumer spending won’t be released until the end of the month, plummeting sales suggest consumers are snapping shut their pocketbooks.
“Financial stress from high energy costs, the fallout from the housing slump and sluggish employment and income growth” will weigh on shoppers, projects Rosalind Wells, chief economist of the National Retail Federation.

So, it’s gloom and doom for the average American shopper and those companies who serve this vast market. A fact which makes this New York Times “Sunday Styles” piece on conspicuous consumption all the more far out.

EXHIBITION and theater are far more important at Harry Cipriani than the taste of the food. Diners go to see who’s there. And they go to prove they can afford to be there. As Frank Bruni wrote in The Times in November, in a review that gave the restaurant a rating of poor, “prices are the point of Harry Cipriani, which exists to affirm its patrons’ ability to throw away money.”

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About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.