Cluttering Up the Economy

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Clutter-holics, take note! Thanks to the holiday season, store shelves are once again crowded with useless goods. The increase in the muddle of clutter is welcome news for accumulators (the industry term for clutter-collectors), since more supply tends to mean lower prices.

“There’s never been a better time to load up on junk,” says K. Ronic-Chaos, president of the Topsy Turvey Society. “Anyone who is still able to get out of their home knows prices are down and the selection is impressive.”

Industry analysts say low prices also help convert would-be clutter-renters into clutter-owners. The national conversion rate increased in the third quarter to 27%, according to a national clutter research firm.

Despite the lower prices, US accumulators are expected to lay out even more than the nearly $2 bazillion they spent on clutter in 2004. Analysts say the boom is boosting profits for companies that design, market and sell items no one actually needs.

Not everyone is happy about the increasing jumble. Some anti-clutter activists believe Americans would be happier if the disorder was outlawed. “The whole situation is a mess,” says one. “We need to get clutter under control.”

But economists say a hodgepodge of businesses, such as heavy truck manufacturers, overnight shippers and moving companies, benefit from the demand for clutter. In addition, statistics indicate the manufacture of clutter is becoming a “core” industry, making it an essential part of the national economy.

Both sides agree one thing is clear: As the debate rages, clutter suppliers are cleaning up.

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