Everyone is in an almighty panic that people aren't spending. The same way (or is it the opposite way?) that there was equal panic that everyone was maxing out their credit cards for the whole of the last decade. How can both these stances be right?
If you're facing hard times (and who isn't?) doesn't it make absolute sense to curtail your spending, wear last years clothes (in my case I still wear stuff that's twenty years old, but then I never was a fashion plate and the livestock don't give a hoot), and basically live off what you've got wherever possible? I'm not talking about UK poverty here, which is a real and separate major concern, but about those of us who have to live more frugally than we've had to in the past.
I'd have thought the press and the government would have been applauding us for not stripping the shops bare at Christmas, for being more reasoned and responsible about our expenditure, and for finally having the strength to resist the cult of more, more, more, spend, spend, spend.
I suspect that 2009 will be the year of anti-conspicuous consumption; grunge will be back. Muddy ten year old Volvo estates will be the car of choice; charity shop clothes with the Oxfam tag still swinging from the collar will be the thing; huge plasma screens bought in 2008 will only be able to show yet more re-runs of The Good Life in 2009; private schooling will gurgle down the drain; and bangers and mash with onion gravy will become the plat du jour.
For the next decade I predict:
- money management classes in every primary and secondary school
- the death of the Porsche
- the digging up of flowerbeds and their replacement with veg
- demand for allotments skyrocketing
- downsizing, downshifting and other euphemisms for one or no income households
- that all ex-battery hens will find a home in suburban gardens, producing cheap eggs
- the diminishing of the cult of celebrity
- the rise of the knitter on the train
- less fanfare, less hubris and a curtailed Olympics
- an emerging generation of workers with different aspirations and expectations