Could the recession be our salvation?
A new poll offers some intriguing insight into how our priorities have shifted:
Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Americans have rejiggered their lives to elevate experiences over things. Because of the Great Recession, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online.
But Americans are not just getting by with less. They are also doing more.
Some are working longer hours, but a larger proportion, the poll shows, are spending additional time with family and friends, gardening, cooking, reading, watching television and engaging in other hobbies.
The Department of Labor’s time-use surveys show a similar trend: compared with 2005, Americans spent less time in 2008 buying goods and services and more time cooking or taking part in “organizational, civic and religious activities.”
Just as tellingly, evidence can also be found in culture. While one new study shows that attendance at museums and cultural events dropped from 2002 to 2008, it has climbed in 2009 at many major institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. Movie attendance was also up 5 percent in 2009, and in the world of the Walt Disney Company, product sales have declined as the company’s theme parks enjoyed a 3 percent increase in visitors last quarter.
Even here in Miami, a city famous for its materialism, retailers are hurting while audiences continue to grow at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, at parks and for cheap activities like yoga by the beach.
“It’s a different kind of recession,” said Richard Florida, the author of several best-selling books about the economics of cities. “It’s not like in the ’30s when people stopped going to concerts. Now people seem to be keeping up with experience consumption and cutting back on other necessities.”
Read on for the rest.