Update on the Tchotchke Index - what does it really tell us?

American' spending on tchotchkes - trinkets, junk, yard sale finds, gift shop items, home decor trinkets and other decorative items for the home - is a measure of the discretionary and impulse purchases for the home. At one point it was believed to be a good measure of the economic wellbeing of American households, rising when Americans are feeling economically flush and falling when times are bad.

However, despite an improved economy and Americans' feelings of financial wellbeing at a 14-year high, the Tchotchke Index continues to show a long-term declining trend. Since the turn of the century, average household spending on tchotchkes has declined by 43%. The decline is significant for all household incomes.

We believe the continued decline of the tchotchke index demonstrates the growth of the experience economy. Decorative stuff for the home is declining in importance so people are spending less on it. Instead they are spending more on experiences for the home. This includes spending on digital entertainment equipment and services, most of which they enjoy at home, which has grown from 2.5% of household spending in 2000 to 3.8% in 2017, an increase of $889 for the average household.