The Madeleine Brand Show for June 20, 2012

The rich are getting richer, but what do they spend their money on?

Luxury Brands In Cannes:63rd Cannes Film Festival

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A woman carrying a Louis Vuitton handbag and a Mirage shopping bag walks along the Croisette during the 63rd Cannes Film Festival on May 13, 2010 in Cannes, France.

The economy is still pretty sluggish. Many of us have a lot less money than we used to, so we're just not spending as much.

But what about the people who do still have money, the so-called '1 percent.' Those with median annual household incomes of $750,000 and median assets of $7.5 million. What are they doing with their money?

You might think they spend most of their money on lavish soirées and limousine rides, but for the most part, the wealthiest Americans are pulling back on spending as well.

"The vast majority of the super rich and affluent shop at Walmart (74 percent), Target (73 percent), and Home Depot (63 percent). That compares with Brooks Brothers (6 percent), Tiffany & Co. (5 percent), DKNY (3 percent), Burberry (2 percent), and Luis Vuitton (2 percent)," according to Barron's Richard Morais.

The Atlantic's Jordan Weissman believes the key difference between the wealthy and the not-wealthy is that they're spending more of their money on experiences, essentially learning to buy happiness and piece of mind. "Spending on expensive vacations and getaways now accounts for more than half of the luxury market and is growing more than 50 percent faster than sales of luxury goods," Weissman said.


Richard Morais, contributing editor at Barron's.

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