Newsweek puts some stats behind the theory that there’s a backlash against consumption. They say that there’s an increase in unused retail space that has been fueled by the exhausted consumer and continued mall building:

Developers opening new malls this year clearly timed the economic cycle poorly. And the cultural cycle isn’t helping matters any. The extreme consumption of this current gilded age has inspired a backlash. In December, hedge-fund billionaire Ray Dalio ran full-page advertisements in newspapers urging Americans to eschew Christmas gifts and instead make donations to charity. Maybe he’s just run out of things to buy. Or maybe he’s surfing the Zeitgeist. “There’s a glut of stores,” says Judith Levine, author of “Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping.” “Our physical, intellectual and emotional and psychological space is filled up with consumption.” Levine laments the wholesale transformation of open spaces into enclosed retail environments (like, say, Barnes & Noble superstores, where you can buy “Not Buying It”). And the incessant bombardment of advertising may be inspiring a backlash that pushes people to consume less. The anti-consumer Freegan movement—urbanites who try to get by through recycling, scrounging and foraging—are taking it to the extreme. These modern Henry David Thoreaus have opted out of the whole rotten capitalist system. Working 60 hours per week and chasing job promotion “for the sake of buying the latest crap off the Sharper Image store shelf is no way to live,” says Adam Weissman, spokesperson for freegan.info. (Hey, dude, one might say the same about diving into Dumpsters in search of day-old bread and discarded futons.)

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