Recession spending

There are plenty of folks in Southeast Missouri who remember the victory gardens planted during World War II. Many items we take for granted were rationed as goods were converted to supplies for the war effort. In the current recession, many Americans are turning to home gardens as a source of food for the dinner table. The National Gardening Association predicts the number of home vegetable gardens will jump more than 40 percent this year. Seed and plant sales are skyrocketing.

This is just one example of booming sales in a tough economy. Many consumers are cutting back on big-ticket purchases but spending more on items that give them comfort, make them feel safe or provide more leisure activities at a reasonable cost.

Sales of chocolate, running shoes, wine, tanning products and comfort foods like macaroni and cheese are climbing.

At the same time, the recession appears to be causing more indigestion. Sales of over-the-counter remedies for upset tummies are up more than 8 percent in the past year.

Meanwhile, sales of many luxury items, including clothes, are down significantly, while sales at Goodwill Industries International in the U.S. and Canada rose 7 percent in March.

Firearm sales, driven in part by President Obama's pledge to tighten gun laws, are up more than 25 percent, and many purchasers say they are more concerned about fears brought on by the recession. Sales of hunting firearms are down more than 45 percent.

These trends indicate Americans are responding with their pocketbooks to economic and political forces just as they have in crises throughout the nation's history.