Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The economic condition not to be named

Not sure if I'm just being sensitized by the media coverage of the economic downtown spreading into surprising places (this morning it was the NYT's on a boat repo man having a banner year) , but it seems that the unmentionable situation (which we may already be in!) is hitting the disposable income of the upper middle classes. Last night at an athletic brand sales meeting I was told that health club memberships are down 20% against last year. And then I kept seeing "Going Out of Business Sale" signs (though sometimes they just say "closing") in the windows of various boutiques that line the streets of the affluent seaside town where I work.

The near rich (or still rich by pre-hedge-fund standards) have a big cushion, but even they seem to be cutting back. One thing is for sure, there will be one less place in this town to buy very expensive baby clothes (luckily two other well-stocked boutiques remain standing), get your hair styled by a real pro or buy woven fabrics for your seaside home.


Beecham said...

Do the "near rich" really have a cushion, even a big cushion? Most of the people in this category that I know have just increased their standard of living as their salaries rise (nicer, bigger house, viking stove, regular housekeeper, new car, fancy stroller, vacation rental in Maine). They are skating just as close to edge as others, if not more, because when they're earning such flush salaries, it just doesn't seem as pressing to save. At least this is what it looks like from outside!

sk said...

Can you say capital gains? Once you become a member of the investment class, the question of salary becomes much less significant. When these people say they are close to the edge, they usually just mean a lack of liquid cash. Which is a far cry from going broke, though it does suck to sell those google stocks before they peak!