Shopping for cheaper goods appeals to more people in the Great Recession

The AP reports that more Americans are willing to be frugal in the their shopping and shop at places, like Goodwill or Aldi, that they wouldn’t have considered before the Great Recession:

And it’s not just about Goodwill. Americans, even those with jobs, are shopping for brands, buying at stores and eating at restaurants that they shunned before because they are trying to get more for their money.

At the supermarket, shoppers are buying more store-labeled products, like no-name detergents and cereal, and not returning to national brands.

And in a telling trend, Americans are turning to layaway more often when they buy expensive items such as engagement rings and iPads. The wealthy are also using layaway more often, a drastic change from the past.

This story seems plausible – but can’t we get any data in the story to back this up (beyond the 11% in revenues for Goodwill)?

Some questions about this trend:

1. Will this change when the economy picks up again? Is this just a short-term response that people will abandon once they have the ability to again shop elsewhere?

2. How much of the stigma of this kind of shopping once existed and how much has been removed? Is stigma just measured by the willingness of people to shop at such places? Where does this stigma come from – people seeing other people shopping, people seeing goods in the homes of their friends, or something else?

3. Are there certain areas where people haven’t picked up on this trend? Are certain people particularly resistant to this?

4. What are the income levels that this applies to? What is the rough cut-off where people still wouldn’t shop at these places or use these more frugal practices?

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