Friday, July 02, 2010

What is it with shoes?

We're treating ourselves

Where we're spending more:

Shoes - up 26%
Takeaway food - up 25%
Newspapers, books - up 14%
Homeware - up 14%
Alcohol - up 6%

Total spending  up 2.8%

8501.0, Victorian spending, year to May

We're feeling about the best-off we've ever felt.

If you want proof, look at our spending on shoes.

Retail figures released yesterday show that while overall spending climbed a mere 2.8 per cent in Victoria this past year - barely enough to keep up with inflation and population growth - our spending on little luxuries skyrocketed.

We spent 6 per cent less on clothes, in part because prices fell, but an outsized 26 per cent more on shoes, 25 per cent more on takeaway food and 14 per cent more on books and newspapers.

"These are the kind of things we lash out on when we feel good," says Bob Cummins, editor of the Journal of Happiness Studies and psychology professor at Deakin University. "Shoes are different to clothes, they are discretionary purchases."

His belief that we feel good is more than an impression. Professor Cummins is in the process of putting together the 23rd Australian Unity Wellbeing Index compiled from a telephone survey of 2000 Australians.

It finds that our overall sense of well-being about the best on record... our view of our standard of living just short of the best on record, and our impression of our personal relationships the best ever.

Professor Cummins believes we are experienceing a so-called contrast effect; the feeling of relief you get after thinking all was lost and discovering it will be alright.

"Even a year ago we were thinking catastrophically," he says. "In 2008 we were in a catastrophe; people thought they had lost everything, the world was falling apart, shares and their superannuation were going through the floor - and then things started to recover."

"What is happening now is an enormous sense of relief - the economy is coming back, shares are no longer losing ground, and we are realising our financial fundamentals are not lost after all."

"We are not buying shoes and the like because we are actually richer, but because of the contrast between how we did feel and how we feel now - the sense of relief."

Other figures released yesterday suggest a cautious recovery in the real estate market. The number of new private sector homes approved in Victoria bounced back in May to be just 3.5 per cent below the peak reached in December at the end of the Commonwealth government's First home Owners boost.

The recovery is ahead of the new state government $20,000 and $26,500 top ups for builders or buyers of new homes in Melbourne and regional Victoria which came into force Thursday.

Victoria leads the nation in the provision of new houses, accounting for 1 in every 3 houses approved nationwide in May and more than twice the NSW total.

Spending on renovations and additions was just of an all-time high at $172 million in May, up 12 per cent from December.

Nationally private home building approvals bounced back 2 per cent in May to be down 8.5 per cent on December.

Total building approvals slid a sharp 6 per cent in the month led down by an 18 per cent slide in apartment approvals and a 21 per cent slide in public sector housing.

Published in today's SMH and Age

Or it could be something else:

"Frogstar World B was once a happy, prosperous planet, which was plunged into poverty and despair by a tragic economic phenomena known as the Shoe Event Horizon, the details of which are as follows:

Even though this planet was, indeed, happy and prosperous, it could be said to have had just a little too many shoe shops. Its poor, fashion-crazed and economically ignorant citizens bought these shoes, gradually coming to buy more, and more, and more, until the shoe companies saw and seized their opportunity, and began to build more shoe shops.

The increase of these shoe shops encouraged people to buy more shoes, which made the shoe companies richer, which manufactured more shoes, and at a lower quality, which made people buy more shoes, etc.

Eventually, it became economically unviable to sell anything other than shoes. Frogstar B spiralled into a state of inexorable economic collapse. Most of the planet died out, and the more genetically unstable of the population evolved into bird-creatures.

This phenomena is claimed by the Dalmon-Saxlil Shoe Corporation to have been caused by a device they call a "Shoe Shop Intensifier Ray", but this is a lie. All that they needed to do was wait a bit."

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8501.0 8731.0 AUWI