Recent reports show U.S. consumers are spending again; some are even ditching the whole discount mentality in favor of luxury brands and making long-delayed big-ticket purchases.
The shift from buying cheaper necessities to comfortably splurging is shown in strong quarterly numbers from Whole Foods Market, Inc. (Nasdaq: WFMI) and Saks Inc. (NYSE: SKS). Whole Foods' quarterly profits doubled from the same period a year ago, while Saks reported a profit of 12 cents per share - higher than the predicted 5 cents per share.
Whole Foods products offer consumers a break from pinching pennies while not viewed as an out-to-dinner splurge. Consumers are putting themselves out there a little more and feel more comfortable buying some higher-end foods - and now the company's stock has gone up 83% since May 2009.
Businesses such as jewelers and travel agents are benefiting from this growing willingness to spend.
But don't misunderstand: Although U.S. consumers are venturing back from their spending hiatuses, they remain cautious buyers.