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Once Slave to Luxury, Japan Catches Thrift Bug

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Not long ago, many Japanese bought so many $100 melons and $1,000 handbags that this was the only country in the world where luxury products were considered mass market. The Times explains that even through the economic stagnation of Japan’s so-called lost decade, which began in the early 1990s, Japanese consumers sustained that reputation. But this recession has done something that earlier declines could not: turned the Japanese into Wal-Mart shoppers. The dismal economy encourages thrift, too. Unemployment is at a record high of 5.7 percent, compared with 9.7 percent in the United States. A troubled government pension system, as well as ballooning government debt, has driven a widespread fear of the future, prompting people to save, not spend.
SOURCE:   New York Times