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We Are All Accumulating Mountains of Things

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We Are All Accumulating Mountains of Things

An article in The Atlantic titled, "We Are All Accumulating Mountains of Things" noted "how online shopping and cheap prices are turning Americans into hoarders."

In 2017, Americans spent $240 billion—twice as much as they'd spent in 2002—on goods like jewelry, watches, books, luggage, telephones, and related communication equipment. Spending on personal care products also doubled over that time period. Americans spent, on average, $971.87 on clothes last year, buying nearly 66 garments, according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association. That's 20 percent more money than they spent in 2000. The average American bought 7.4 pairs of shoes last year, up from 6.6 pairs in 2000.

All told, "we are all accumulating mountains of things," said Mark A. Cohen, the director of retail studies at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business. He sometimes asks his students to count the number of things they have on them in class, and once they start counting up gadgets and cords and accessories, they end up near 50. "Americans have become a society of hoarders," Cohen said.

At the same time we are amassing all this stuff, Americans are taking up more space. Last year, the average size of a single-family house in America was 2,426 square feet, a 23 percent increase in size from two decades ago. The number of self-storage units is rapidly increasing, too: There are around 52,000 such facilities nationally; two decades ago, there were half that number.

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