Post-recession consumer spending: less mobility, more mobile tech

Over the last three years, there has been a distinct drop in spending on physical mobility and corresponding boost in spending on mobile technologies.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

Over the last three years, American consumers may have grown more cautious about their spending, but that caution has been selective.  Interestingly, there has been a distinct pattern away from physical mobility -- spending on relocation, cars, sports vehicles, and travel -- and strongly toward mobile technologies.

You only need to look at the long lines that have been forming in front of your nearest Apple store, contrasted with the struggling auto dealership down the street, to draw the conclusion that tougher times sparked interest in more virtual activities.

Mike Mandel just posted some figures, culled from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, that looks at spending by American consumers between the fourth quarter of 2007 -- when the economic downturn officially began, to the end of the second quarter of this year. By the way, he observes that the latest BEA numbers show aggregate personal consumption expenditures are up 2.9%, or $285 billion.

And the winners are:

Telephone equipment             +16.6%   $1.5 billion

Pets                                         +14.4     $5.7 billion

Education                                +13.4%    $36.9 billion

Childcare                                 +12.8%    $3.8 billion

Healthcare                               +10.8%    $193.7 billion

Housing                                   +6.4%      $95.4 billion

Food & drink (off-premises)     +5.3%      $40.3 billion

Communication services          +5.0%      $14.1 billion

Information processing equip.  +3.9%      $2.6 billion

Not doing too well over the last seven quarters:

Moving, storage & freight service     -16.6%     -$3.7 billion

Motor vehicles and parts                  -16.0%     -$64.2 billion

Gasoline/energy                               -15.3%      -$61 billion

Sports & recreation vehicles             -12.8%      -$6.3 billion

Video & audio equipment                   -8.4%      -$9.9 billion

US travel overseas                            -7.4%       -$4.5 billion

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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