Report: Penny Pinching Alive and Well

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Even though there are signs that the economy is recovering, there are just as many indications that consumers remain in scale-back mode, buying cheaper or discounted goods, and buying less period. Will the days of spending $100 a month on cat food ever return?

USA Today offers these thrifty factoids:

Three years ago, 48% of consumers bought most products on sale. Today, it’s 53%, says NPD Group, a retail market researcher. Last year, nearly seven in 10 consumers shopped in a discount, big-volume or off-price store, compared with five in 10 three years ago, NPD says.

Who is feeling the impact of frugality as the “new normal”? Among others, cats, who are feasting on less fancy food in many households. Like that of Leigh Gostowski, who owns three cats and doesn’t spoil like them she used to:

Until the downturn, Gostowski spent years — and thousands of dollars — pampering her cats with the finest brands. Among other things, she would go online to order Newman’s Own Organics Premium Pet Food at $1.50 a can.

Toss in shipping costs, and she was spending more than $100 a month on cat food.

Once the stock market plummeted, “I couldn’t keep that up indefinitely,” she says. Now she pays 43 cents a can at Wal-Mart for Friskies — less than one-third of what she used to pay.