What am I supposed to buy?
Perhaps I have missed the point, but I fail to understand where the "pundits" think continued double digit growth is expected to continue coming from, or what it is I, as a fairly bog standard consumer, should be buying.
My family and I are fortunate in that we are reasonably well provided for, all in work except for the Princess who is going to be a QC soon and will look after us all (we think!).
We buy what we need without being profligate. Madam has spending sprees on the three grandchildren, but that is hardly going to turn the High Street tide.
Very few people are moving house at present, hence they have no need for new cookers, fridge freezers etc.
Credit card debt is on many people's minds and they are working hard to reduce this, either by playing the cards to find the 0 per cent rates, or by paying off as much as they can each month.
I also believe savings behaviour is slowly changing. Non-numbskulls are quietly waking up to the fact that they are likely to live longer than their forebears and the tooth fairy doesn't exist.
If you are going to live into your 80s and want to live above subsistence level post 65, then perhaps you had better do something about it now.
And now is not the time to be lashing out with the cards, debit or credit, as unemployment is creeping up cumulatively if you add in public sector, BBC, MG Rover and Marconi job cuts. If you want your children to go to university the simple fact is that you have to wave goodbye to somewhere between £500 and £1,000 of taxed net income per month, depending on their university location and your means.
The larger supermarkets can now supply most of our requirements, not only food, but also clothing, garden products, electrical goods, computers and most things you might possibly require in the home.
If a warranty is not vital, then car boot sales provide just about everything else that modern life requires.
And I think living styles are changing. Some of our offspring learn from their parents, even if by default.
Having watched their parents struggling to pay off massive mortgages, and now finding that they can't get on to the first rung of the property ladder anyway, I believe many young couples will be deciding to forego property ownership until some of us snuff it. Wait until Mater and Pater go and leave us, at least, the deposit.
In the meantime, let's rent. Depending on where you live and your means, you are probably looking at £700- 1,200 for somewhere habitable.
All these elements add up to a growing culture of increasingly cute credit card players and sophisticated savers that does not bode well for the High Street, but is probably far better for our long term financial health.