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In Slumping Economy, a Shift in Shopping Habits

Economics correspondent Paul Solman speaks with author Paco Underhill about how consumer habits have changed during this recession.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Finally tonight, changing shopping habits in a slumping economy. NewsHour economics correspondent Paul Solman has this conversation. It's part of his series making sense of financial news.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    Paco Underhill is a retail consultant with a scientific bent. Trained as an environmental psychologist, he is the author of the international marketing bestseller "Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping."

    And though his job is to help stores sell more, the recession has given an ironically negative cast to the marketing consultant's worldview.

    PACO UNDERHILL, author, "Why We Buy": We cannot sustain the juggernaut of consumption that we have had here in the United States over the past decade.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    But you want us to be spending as much, don't you?

  • PACO UNDERHILL:

    I want you to be spending what you can afford. We have Americans out there whose credit card debt exceeds their annual income. We have an entire generation of Americans with little or no fiscal discipline or financial knowledge.

    Our houses are too big. Our cars are too big. Our debts are too big. Our bellies are too big. Now it's time to go on a diet.

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