Luxuries for Everyone!

by Don Boudreaux on October 17, 2004

in Standard of Living

Karol, Thomas, and I woke up this morning in one of our favorite places – Charleston, South Carolina. At the airport, waiting to fly back to the Potomac swamp, I read in The Charleston Post and Courier this story — “Masses Trade Up to Luxury” — explaining how luxury items are increasingly available to middle-class Americans. If true – and I believe that the facts conveyed in this story are both real and form a solid basis for generalizing about the modern U.S. economy – then the many scare-stories we routinely hear about the ‘hollowing out’ of the American middle class simply must be fictional.

I encourage you to read the entire report, but here are some revealing quotations:

People have always saved a little here to spend a little there, said Carl Obermiller, professor of marketing at Seattle University.

What is different now: a steadily rising standard of living and brand-name goods that are more available and more affordable than ever. For better or worse, almost anyone can have a taste of luxury.
….

With the mainstreaming of luxury, the purveyors of ne luxury are confronted with a paradox: How to offer affordable luxury while maintaining exclusivity.

Lennon & McCartney were right: It is getting better all the time!

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