US consumption datapoint of the day

September 5, 2009
Jon Mooallem's very good NYT Magazine article on the self-storage industry:

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From Jon Mooallem’s very good NYT Magazine article on the self-storage industry:

By the early ’90s, American families had, on average, twice as many possessions as they did 25 years earlier. By 2005, according to the Boston College sociologist Juliet B. Schor, the average consumer purchased one new piece of clothing every five and a half days.

That’s an average of 66 clothing purchases per person, per year. I’m sure that the number for men is a lot lower than the number for women, so I fear to think what the number for women is.

Mooallem is also good on explaining how the self-storage industry is essentially a way of monetizing the sunk-cost fallacy. Indeed, the industry itself is happy to admit it:

Clem Tang, a spokesman for Public Storage, explains: “You say, ‘I paid $1,000 for this table a couple of years ago. I’m not getting rid of it, or selling it for 10 bucks at a garage sale. That’s like throwing away $1,000.’ ”

Of course, you really threw away $1,000 when you bought the table. But you probably justified the purchase by considering it an “investment”. Despite the fact that if you’ll never sell something for more than you bought it for, it can never be an investment.


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