Despite all the bad news we’ve been hearing about the economy lately, North Americans still managed to spend nearly $350 billion over the past three months! So what are we still buying during this tough recession? Here’s what the experts at Forbes magazine discovered.

  • First, people can’t give up spending money on: Personal care. So far this year, shampoo, hairspray, shaving cream, and other grooming products have seen sales jump 18%. Experts say one reason for the jump could be today’s high unemployment rate. With so many people losing their job, people want to pamper themselves more at home – especially if it helps them look good for their next job interview.
  • Another thing people are still buying: Technology. Many people are “nesting” more at home with their family these days, and consumer experts say technology provides the perfect form of escapist entertainment. In fact, since last year, video game sales are up 14%, and Smart Phone sales have doubled! No doubt about it, games like “Guitar Hero” or “Madden NFL ’09” make it very easy to take our mind off money problems.
  • We’re also spending a lot more money on: Movie tickets. Even with tickets costing as much as $15 in some cities, going to the movies is still considered one of the cheapest forms of entertainment available. That helps explain why Hollywood studios have already set several box office records this year, with revenue soaring 22%.
  • One more thing people are still spending money on: Personal fitness. All the focus on nesting at home hasn’t turned us into a nation of couch potatoes. In fact, gym memberships are up 4% so far in 2009. as many people think of the gym as an “affordable luxury.”

So what do all these recession necessities have in common? Martin Lindstrom is a marketing expert who wrote the book Buyology: Truth And Lies About What We Buy. He says personal care, technology, movies and the gym all provide the same thing: A break from reality. Basically, we want to, quote “dream ourselves away,” until the hard times pass us by.