American's spending on tchotchkes - trinkets, junk, yard sale finds, gift shop items, home decor trinkets and other decorative items for the home - the discretionary and impulse purchases for the home, is an excellent measure of the economic wellbeing of American households. It rises when Americans are feeling economically flush and falls when times are bad.
It's been four years since we last reported on the Tchotchke Index. Here's an update.
The index hit bottom in 2013, declining by 53% from 2005. Since 2013, we've seen it climb 47% back to its 2006 level. So even though the index indicates economic wellbeing is getting better for American households, the Tchotchke Index has not returned to its historic high back at the turn of the Century.
We dug into the data in more detail and developed Tchotchke Indexes for each of the five quintiles of household income. The majority of the overall index's climb from 2013 is attributable to increased spending by the top 20% of households by income where spending more than doubled. The increases for the other income quintiles were flat to no more than 31%.
This is the same trend we are seeing with discretionary out-of-home entertainment spending. It's rising for the highest income households while actually declining for the other income groups.