September 13, 2010

Luxury to Necessity and Back Again

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The recession has made five familiar consumer items far less of a necessity in the lives of Americans.

The economy’s recent downturn has forced many Americans to reconsider just how necessary certain everyday products are. In 2006, more Americans rated five items — car, clothes dryer, home air conditioning, microwave, home computer — a necessity than in any previous survey. But in the middle of a recession, far fewer say that they cannot live without these items. Cars have performed the best in maintaining their can’t-live-without status. Fully 86% say a car is a necessity today, just a five-point drop from 2006 when 91% said the same. The most recently popularized item, the home computer, also fared well. A high of 51% said a computer was a necessity in 2006, but 49% still said the same in the most recent survey. Other items did not hold up as well. An overwhelming 83% considered a clothes dryer a necessity in 2006; post-recession, just 59% said the same. Similarly, home air conditioning was needed by 70% in 2006, but just 55% in 2010. And while 68% couldn’t bear life without a microwave four years ago, today, a majority consider it a luxury (just 45% say necessity). Read More