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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Just as there were many different recessions, there are many different recoveries

As far-reaching as the recession was, it was not a singular event that treated everyone the same. The Great Recession was a very personal event, depending on the employment, housing, revolving credit and other financial dynamics of an individual or their family.

A story in today’s New York Times suggests that like the recession, the recovery will be a highly personalized matter, at least with regard to credit card use. Click here to read the full story.

Implications: I know people who regularly use their credit cards for necessities, but only because they like to rack-up frequent-flier points or other rewards. I know people who use cash, even for a major purchase. So blanket conclusions can be a dangerous thing.

But the fact is, a tremendous number of consumers have been trying to de-lever over the past few years. While some are again warming-up to the idea of using a credit card or financing a major purchase, it appears unlikely that we, as a society, will go whole-hog on another spending spree like the one that preceded the recession.

On the other hand, there are consumers who are using credit instruments every day, not out of want, but out of need.

In your business, does a “qualified customer” look the same in 2011 as they looked in 2006? What, if anything, has changed?

Mike Anderson, for the Elm Street Economics consumer trends blog. A service of The Center for Sales Strategy, Inc.

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