To Buy Or Not To Buy: A Changing Worldwide Consumer Psychology

By 1933, the great depression was well underway and the corner had already turned on the Roaring Twenties. Currently the US and the world is on the cusp of what might be the greatest corrections in modern times with mass inflation, pandemic policies that killed capitalism, a Russia/Ukraine clash and the major weaponization of what was once thought of as the world financial system.

The most marked changes during the great depression was not just loss of major anchor businesses, but also the sharp change in consumer spending habits. According to the US Library of Congress consumer spending had dropped from 77.5 billion in 1929 to just 45.5 billion in 1933. We are seeing signs of that today as big companies will likely take a major hit, if not liquidate altogether.

Americans are not the only ones tightening their belt these days. According to the IMF World Economic Outlook the global economy is projected to grow by only 4.9 percent in 2022, compared to 6.0 percent in 2021. It is a reality for people worldwide coming off of an economy-smashing pandemic. Underscore that with major weaponization of SWIFT and unprecedented sanctions are making many–even the rich, change business and banking habits. Saudis are liquidating Western assets and Russians want payments in rubles.

It is not clear how the world will reorder itself after the world financial fiasco, which looks to be just getting started. But consumers of all kinds are rethinking their fiscal strategies and their ability to be less dependent on volatile actors. Particularly the common consumer is cutting back on leisure activities and living a more quotidian life. Most big box companies and governments are merely seeking to recoup financial losses incurred during the pandemic without considering the changing consumer behaviors materializing as the canary in the economic cave.

What does this mean for retailers and businesses? It means that consumers may likely trim away corporate profits too or abandon nonessential services completely. Without knowing definitively about their income or financial capability regardless of where they are on the pay scale, attitudes are likely to change. CNN+ invested billions into its enterprise but crashed in less than a month as consumer realities in lifestyle, finance and attitude cut into not only their pockets but their worldview outlook.

Consumers are becoming more wary and less trusting of the authorities on inflation, armed confict, the pandemic, sanctions and leadership as concepts once branded as theories and misinformation proved to be true. And that lack of safety matters in influencing buying habits. Including official attempts to police content only seem to exacerbate the alarm. People can’t be told what to think or feel, so consumer trust continues to erode, as the safest thing becomes trusting their own intuition. And this spells certain doom for some leaders and industry players as focus will begin to move toward blame.

Consumers everywhere don’t have the the patience, as de-dollarization and delistings loom. Not knowing where to find fiscal stability, the world and the consumer will migrate to the most stable actors with the best prices and options. But what that looks like in actual practice might be a new world system for finance and stability or a nebulous unknown.

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