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10 Things That are Still Selling … Despite the Economy


It’s now official: Americans are putting off spending and instead are saving more. The U.S. savings rate actually rose to 2.9 percent in the last three months of 2008, up from less than 1 percent a year ago.

Retail spending is down overall, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s stopped shopping.

While all this saving is good on a personal level, it’s bad for the economy as a whole – something economists call “the paradox of thrift.”

From November to December 2008, retail sales were down 2.7 percent, and 9.8 percent from December 2007. Consumer confidence is reportedly at its lowest point in history, according to a report from the Commerce Department, painting a very bleak picture for retailers.

Still, while sales are definitely slowing, over $343 billion in sales were racked up in December 2008 alone. So clearly people are still buying something.

What those “somethings” are were recently revealed by an excellent article on See if you can identify the 10 items before browsing through the list that follows.

Which 10 Things are People Still Buying?

  1. Gym memberships. Surprising, no? It appears people are still yearning to get in shape despite financial woes, as gym memberships are expected to increase 4 percent this year, according to market research firm Stifel Nicolaus.
  1. Personal care products. Sales of personal care products such as shaving cream, toothpaste and perfume just keep rising. While some of these are necessities, others are more lavish, such as skin care gift sets, and are likely used as a small splurge to boost spirits.
  1. Video games and consoles. According to Forbes, these are still selling because “consumers today desire affordable escapism, and videogames fall into that category.”
  1. Toy building sets. Kids’ needs appear to come out on top for many families, as toys such as building sets increased sales by 30 percent from October 2007 to October 2008. Lego’s brand blocks increased sales by 12 percent last year.
  1. Car maintenance. Car sales are down, but repair and maintenance products such as wiper blades, spark plugs, brake pads and fuel-system cleaners have had double-digit sales increases in the last year.
  1. Dress casual shoes. This particular style of shoes, the type that you can wear to work, continued to show growth in sales while most other segments of the apparel and footwear industries diminished.
  1. Restaurants. Restaurant spending is estimated to increase 2.5 percent in 2009, with most of the growth possibly going to fast food restaurants and other low-cost eateries.


Spending on a gym membership can help you stay healthy and reduce stress … both well worth every penny (assuming you USE it).

  1. Movie tickets. Movie theater attendance went down in 2008 overall, but theaters still increased sales by 2 percent last year. While going to the movies can be pricey, it’s still a relatively cheap form of entertainment for families.
  1. Netbooks. These mini laptops increased sales by 160 percent in the third quarter of 2008, compared with 2007. The small computers retail for around $300 and provide a more affordable alternative to a regular laptop.
  1. Smart phones. Sales increased 53 percent from November 2007 to November 2008, showing that these phones are increasing in popularity.

Tips for Buying in a Down Economy

There are some silver linings to an economic downturn, and several of them come quite in handy if you’re in the market for a big purchase. Whereas retailers wouldn't think of haggling over prices when the economy is robust, when the economy is sluggish, it's fair game.

This means that if you have been eyeing a big purchase, such as a riding lawnmower or high-definition TV, now may be the time to get a good deal. Stores that are open to price negotiations include Best Buy, Circuit City, Home Depot and many others.

Further, if you’re looking to buy a home, it is definitely a buyer’s market. Home prices are at near record lows, and sellers are throwing in great incentives to move their properties.

If you’re inclined to take advantage of the great deals to be had right now, be sure to stay within your budget and not go over your spending limits. Remember, buying more than you can afford will only set you up for financial hardship down the road.

Recommended Reading

How to Use the Current Economy as a Premier Lesson to Teach Your Kids About Money Management

What Type of Investments are Worth Making in THIS Economy?

Sources January 20, 2009

Yahoo News February 1, 2009

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