The New Austerity Hits Affluent Americans


It's not only middle-class Americans who are feeling the recession's pinch -- there are new signs that the affluent and wealthy are increasingly feeling frugal, according to a new survey that evaluated the sensibilities of the wealthiest 10 percent of U.S. households.

So while many of us make regular visits to Wal-Mart, Costco, Target and all manner of dollar stores, it seems that wealthy Americans are starting to feel more frugal as well. The survey, conducted at the end of June by Harrison Group and American Express Publishing, polled households with discretionary funds of at least $100,000 after taxes, mortgage, education costs and regular, monthly payments and found that 80 percent said they were monitoring all spending categories to see where they could save money. That's up from 68 percent in April.

In addition 56 percent of those polled said they were purchasing fewer expensive items than they did six months ago, and 82 percent claimed to wait for an item to go on sale before buying it. Of course many of us never buy an item unless it's on sale. This is a regular practice. How about your household? Do you ever buy something that's not on sale? Of course, when it comes to groceries or drug store items, you buy what you especially like and what you absolutely need. But a silk blouse, a new pair of jeans, those Adidas sneakers you've been eyeing? No way.

Now there are certain items that never go on sale. You know, that Hermes tie or the Coach bag (okay, so you can go to the Coach outlet store and it'll be a little less expensive). You can buy namebrand disposable diapers with some coupons, right?

Yet more signs that the luxury market has softened: Neiman Marcus reported that its sales at stores open at least a year declined 1.4 per cent in the three months from May to July. And while diamonds may be a girl's best friend, elite jeweler Harry Winston reported that U.S. sales declined in the first three months of the year. Some advice: Purchase a good fake...