Going Swimmingly

Michael Panzner
updated | Author's Website

Pool_drowning

(Image: source)

Americans are cutting spending on…

pets –

“Dog Owners Seeking Discounts as Petsmart Confronts Bite: Retail” (Bloomberg)

Liz Harper’s dog once dined on bowls of Mars Inc.’s Royal Canin tailored to the Boxer breed and packed with the heart-healthy amino acid L-carnitine. She’d wash it down with Bowser Beer, a dog drink brewed from malt barley and salt-free chicken stock. Today, Billie Holiday has to settle for kibble from the local Target Corp. (TGT) store.

“It’s probably worse than toxic waste, but she loves it,” said Harper, a 36-year-old attorney from Pelham, New York. “It’s cheap and way easier to buy than anything else. She’s a dog — she eats out of the garbage can and drinks out of the sewer. She doesn’t need organic dog food.”

Harper is among a growing proportion of pet owners who are seeking bargains and shunning more opulent items such as $600 Swarovski crystal dog collars, according to researchers Packaged Facts and Mintel. The $87 billion pet-product market, once deemed recession-proof, is starting to show cracks as owners struggle to make ends meet.

Nearly four out of 10 U.S. pet owners in a September Packaged Facts survey said they’re spending less on pet products, up from 27 percent in February 2010. Three-quarters of them are looking for deals, particularly on non-food items like apparel and toys. The U.S. is the world’s largest pet product market, according to researcher Euromonitor International.

“The totally discretionary stuff is increasingly being cast aside,” said Lee Linthicum, head of food research at Euromonitor. “People still want to spend a fair bit of money on their pets, but they are reevaluating their priorities.” –

health care –

“Americans Cut Down On Checking For Colon Cancer During Recession” (Huffington Post)

The recession pushed many Americans to cut back on a vital service, one that could have cost some their lives.

Americans between the ages of 50 to 64 got 500,000 fewer colonoscopies, or screenings aimed at detecting colon cancer, during the recession, compared to the two years before, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of North Carolina’s medical school.

The cut back may have had adverse affects on Americans’ health; another recent study found that removing polyps detected by colonoscopies can cut the risk of dying from colon cancer in half.

The study on the prevalence of screenings during the recession also found that regardless of the economic climate, cost is often a barrier for patients looking to get screened. Patients with out-of-pocket costs that were $300 or more were less likely to get screened then those with costs that were $50 or less, Spencer Dorn, one of the study’s authors told the Wall Street Journal, and that gap grew during the recession.

The downturn has pushed many Americans to cut back on health care across the board. High unemployment during the recession and into the recovery has meant that many Americans scaled back on going to the doctor and hospital, either because they don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance or because they have limited funds, according to health companies cited by Dow Jones. –

meat –

“Price Becomes Even Bigger Factor for Meat Shoppers” (Supermarket News)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Price has always played a major role in the consumer’s final decision when shopping supermarket meat departments, and that role appears to be growing, according to the seventh annual Power of Meat study, presented here today at the 2012 Annual Meat Conference, a joint production of the American Meat Institute and the Food Marketing Institute.

Most importantly, price per pound solidified its number-one ranking as the most important consumer decision factor, but total package cost is now the second most important factor that shoppers consider, making it more important than product appearance for the first time in the study’s history.

“It’s all about price. We’ve got some incredibly savvy consumers out there, and they’re really cautious about what they are doing with their dollar today,” noted presenter Micheal Uetz, principal of Chicago-based Midan Marketing.

A large segment of shoppers continue to do “a tremendous amount of planning” both before they get to the store and while they are shopping, in an effort to get the best deals, Uetz said. The recession and the sluggish recovery has honed their shopping skills, and they are now able to dial up or dial down money saving measures quickly. –

and driving –

“U.S. Motorists Drive Fewer Miles in 2011″ (Detroit News)

Washington— Americans hit the brakes on travel in 2011, as travel on U.S. roads fell to its lowest level since 2003, government data shows.

Last year, U.S. drivers logged 35.7 billion fewer miles over 2010 — down 1.2 percent — to 2.963 trillion miles, the Federal Highway Administration reported.

That’s the fewest number of miles since Americans drove 2.890 trillion miles in 2003.

Stubbornly, high gas prices and an economic slowdown since 2008 have convinced some Americans not to drive as much. –

but other than that, things are going swimmingly for the U.S. consumer.

Yeah, right.

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