As consumer spending grinds to a complete halt amid the worst economic slowdown since the Great Depression, it is certainly surprising to see some companies dependent on discretionary spending that are actually holding up fairly well in this brutal market.

Helen of Troy

(HELE) - Get Report

is one such consumer discretionary company. The company designs, produces and markets brand-name personal-care electrical products, including hair dryers, hot-air brushes and women's shavers. It also produces and markets nonelectric items such as massage cushions, footbaths and various kitchen items.

All of Helen of Troy's products are for services that people can either live without, use less frequently or find cheaper alternatives to. Spas and salons bear a disproportionate burden than normal consumer services because they epitomize luxury and extravagance. These are usually the first items cut from a tightening household budget.

High-end retailers such as

Jones Apparel

(JNY)

and Liz

Claiborne

( LIZ), both of which are down 80% or so on the year, give investors a nasty taste of what happens when the consuming public turns to discount retailers, such as

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

and

Family Dollar

(FDO)

.

Bare Essentials

( BARE) also fits the category of a once-high-flying discretionary stock that has seen a huge drop off in sales given the economic recession.

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