Since the economy tanked in 2008, analysts have been wondering when and if consumer activity would return to normal levels. But, three years after the collapse of the financial markets, it's beginning to appear as though conditions are normal - they're just a new kind of normal.
A report released this week by Time magazine shows frugality, fiscal responsibility and a honing of financial priorities - attributes of recession-era shoppers - are now commonplace. According to the survey, Americans are more likely to shop in discount and dollar stores today than in 2009 by a margin of 38 percent to 45 percent.
More than four out of five respondents - 83 percent - claim the economy has forced them to be more frugal and cost-conscious in the long run. Eighty-five percent claim they're spending more time looking for deals and discounts.
"There are some exceptions to the spend less, save more ethos, however," reports Brad Tuttle for Time. "Credit card use has crept back up, and people today are more likely to carry balances than they were a few years back. In 2008, 63 percent said they no longer carry a balance, compared to 43 percent in 2011."