Living in an age of austerity

The global recession that began in 2008 has not gone away, at least not in Europe. The biggest economic change is a long-term shift in the balance of economic power, primarily towards Asia.

Western consumers, especially those in parts of Europe, are coming to terms with the fact the days of increasing affluence may be over. Many European consumers are already adapting their lives to this austerity and adjusting their spending accordingly. The first part of this new century was a period of economic growth in Europe, particularly with the incorporation of the new Member States.

Since 2008, the boom times have gone as Europe has been seriously affected by the global credit crunch with growing unemployment and a slump in consumer demand, particularly in the Central and Southern European countries. Since 2008, European retail sales decreased by an average of 1.6% to € 2,610 billion in 2011.