We are spending less for the first time in 30 years. Has downshifting taken hold? Are people putting people and the planet first? Is this a massive turning point in the growth of growth and the shift to a post-material world?
Sadly not. People are spending less because of increasing price rises and growing job insecurity. Fuel and some items like women’s fashion have seen inflation rates go through the roof. Job losses and the threat of them in austerity Britain is hitting home too.
Funnily enough disposable income levels are back to where they were on a year on year basis (i.e. not in absolute terms) to where they were when two important things happened; first the link between happiness and material growth parted company. After that point we got richer but happiness levels failed to keep up. Second 1976 was the year the British said they were happiest – ever. We have never reached the peak of that long hot summer – despite the IPod or the IPad.
But can we use the forced down shift to imagine and different and better life? One in which we have more time for the people we love and not just for the things in the shops we think we love. What is your bet?