The recession is teaching us Americans how to do without that flashy sports car or that McMansion. Even so, there are a few things that we just plain do not want to give up. When someone tries to take certain things from us, we react like Linus from the “Peanuts” cartoon when Snoopy steals his blanket only it’s no fun to watch adults chase each other around over the latest iPad. What are we less willing to do without? Well, here’s a few things.
Portable computers. What is one thing that a lot of homeless people have? Laptops. That’s right, with the price of laptops and netbooks way down, even many people without homes or regular work are picking up cheap or used models and logging onto the Internet. With such easy access to technology, one hopes that the jobless are using their laptops to network with potential employers or hitting the freelance scene to improve their lot.
High-speed Internet access. I will allow that this one is related to the portable computers one. Many people consider this to be more essential than microwaves, clothes dryers and dishwashers. This certainly says something about how the Internet change the way we network, socialize, and live our lives.
Smart phones. Of the cell phone world, smart phones are the only ones that have actually gone up in sales in 2009. The rest dragged overall cell phone sales down by 7 percent.
Education. This recession has given many people the time they need to upgrade their skills, which will boost them up better with potential employers. The same people who have downsized other areas of their lives are willing to borrow money to upsize their education.
Movies. Movie ticket sales are holding strong with science fiction blockbusters like “Ender’s Game” leading the way. The increased movie consumption doesn’t seem to have helped Netflix much, but was good for Redbox.
TV. Overall, Americans are spending less on entertainment but watching more TV. The current slump in employment may account for this as people have more time to sack in front of their favorite shows.
Music downloads. The ability to instantly download music, make playlists and carry all our favorite tunes on a device small enough to fit in a pocket has fueled speculation that CDs may be going the way of 45-rpm records. Music downloads rose by 21 percent in 2009.
Pets. Who could forget our beloved Fido? Spending on our pets has risen by about 5 percent per year all through this recession. And for good reason: Your pooch is the one who sticks with you through thick and thin. He deserves a pampering for all those times he gave you a big wet kiss after a long stressful day.
Booze. Americans are buying cheaper brands of beer but just as much of it and doing more drinking at home rather than at the bar or restaurant.
Coffee. Heads-up, Starbucks: The $5 latte is not recession proof. With more people discovering ways to make their favorite coffee drink or just brew a cup of coffee at home, the barista would do well to diversity her skills by joining the many Americans who uprated their education during the recession.