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With kitchen table conversations about what kinds of purchases can be put off, “people are [getting] tired of denying themselves,” said Michael Silverstein, a senior partner at The Boston Consulting Group. Food accounts for three of 10 favorite trade ups to premium goods as consumers with tight finances eat more meals at home.

This story first appeared in the April 8, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Apparel failed to make the top 10 because so many people “acquired lots of it between 2002 and 2007,” Silverstein said. But he anticipates change ahead. “The big inventory of unworn clothes at home is running down,” he said. “Innovation technically and functionally — like wrinkle-free material, improved fit and comfort — could spur purchases.”

Top 10 Consumer Trade Ups In The U.S.:
1. Personal computers
2. Fresh fruits and vegetables
3. Bedding
4. Meat
5. Home entertainment
6. Cars
7. Sit-down restaurants
8. Kitchen appliances
9. Washers and dryers
10. Fish and seafood