BOSTON (TheStreet) -- As it turned out, 2009 was a great deal -- if credit-strapped consumers could get it.
Around this time in 2008, even high-end retailers like
were reducing prices more than 50% to clear the shelves amid diminished holiday sales. This year,
, reduced inventory and the return of layaway helped bump holiday sales 3.6% this season, according to MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse report. However, bankruptcies in the retail and car industries have decreased consumer options just as fear in the banking sector has hurt
to all but financially flush buyers. How relatively cardless consumers fared in 2009 was directly tied to how both they and the companies that provided their goods and services reacted to the market tanking around March and April.
Here are some of the big consumer trends of 2009:
High-tech goes low budget
: This year, the rise of low-priced, low-powered
undercut even modest
. Price drops on
rental companies, such as
iPhone faces more competition
iPhone as rivals
Research In Motion
( RIMM) and
( MOT) introduced new models with slicker designs and more features. Motorola's
, a touch-screen phone that runs
Android software, generated major buzz when it debuted in November.
Cheap becomes trendy
: Discounts became the norm this year as prices on everything from
to clothes fell. Even
gained popularity this year as travelers grew frustrated with
. The market for
also grew as Internet-savvy shoppers looked for ways to trim a few dollars off their purchases.
Luxury rethinks value
: While reduced or delayed consumption shrunk the market for high-end goods a bit in 2009, a
returned actual luxury to a once-bloated consumer segment. Though stores like
dabbled in somewhat
this year, a shift away from advertising and toward customer service made
seem like sensible investments.
Big spenders keep splurging
: Call 2009 a recession year if you must, but ultra-wealthy Americans still opened
-- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.
Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet.com. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, The Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.