Consumer thrift begins to add up

Feb. 25, 2011 at 1:31 PM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Statistics show that U.S. consumers hurt by the economic downturn are learning thrift by hanging onto some products longer.

Research firm Polk said new cars, on average, were now held by the original owners for a record 63.9 months, The New York Times reported Friday.

That's up from an average of 59.4 months at the end of 2008.

Pointedly, when used cars are figured in, the current 52.2 month average is also a record, Polk said.

Consumers are also clinging to cellphone and computers longer than in the past. Cellphones, on average, are traded in every 18 months, up two months from a few years ago, the Times said. And consumers now hold onto laptops an average of 52 months, which is up from 51 months a year ago.

Industry analyst Ali Dibadj at Sanford C. Bernstein said the trend is also hitting the category of consumables, which includes soap and shampoo.

"People are squeezing the last bit out of the shampoo. They seem to be adding more water to really squeeze out the last bit," he said.

"Consumers are doing their best to conserve. We're seeing it again and again and again," he added.

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