This sense of "too much stuff" is combining with a strong uptick in thrift to create a different consumer mindset. As I have written before, "Thrift is the new cool; thrift is the new extravagance." This of course completes the cycle, and we start to shop at thrift stores. This whole dynamic kicks into our growing sense of environmentalism, going green and recycling, and we therefore feel good about this.
I have also noticed—and if you are a loyal viewer of The Oprah Show or visitor to Oprah.com, you have too—that there are specialists ready to help us get rid of our stuff and organize what we decide to keep. Our focus has shifted from acquiring more stuff to getting rid of stuff and organizing the stuff. This is largely connected to this long and painful recession of 2008???2010.
As we begin to move out of this recession, there is bound to be a rebound in consumer spending. People have postponed purchasing many items in the past year, so there is some pent-up demand. Once their jobs feel more secure, the first thing people will do is buy that flat-screen TV, or finally replace the old washing machine. This pertains only to those of us who are employed—there are still too many Americans who remain unemployed; until they get a job, they will not make such purchases.
That said, I predict that—for a large percentage of the population—making do with the stuff we have will become a permanent trend. Purchases primarily will be about replacement and necessity, and only occasionally about indulgence and impulse. We have started to save more...and we like that feeling. We feel good that we are using what we have. The simple process of organizing all our stuff makes us realize how much we have and therefore how little we might actually need. To some degree, the concepts of "want" and "need" have been separated more than in the recent past.