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,

staggered discounts

, 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

credit access

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




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video game consoles

jolted not only gamers

, but


rental companies, such as


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iPhone faces more competition

: Lower-priced

cell phones



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iPhone as rivals

Research In Motion

( RIMM) and


( MOT) introduced new models with slicker designs and more features. Motorola's

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, a touch-screen phone that runs


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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

bus travel

gained popularity this year as travelers grew frustrated with

mounting airline fees

. The market for

Web coupons

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

restated emphasis on value

returned actual luxury to a once-bloated consumer segment. Though stores like


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(TIF) - Get Report

dabbled in somewhat

less glamorous offerings

this year, a shift away from advertising and toward customer service made

gold bullion


$1,200 custom-made dishes


$50,000 bespoke men's suits

seem like sensible investments.

Big spenders keep splurging

: Call 2009 a recession year if you must, but ultra-wealthy Americans still opened

$1.15 billion football stadiums


drank $14,000 scotch


cooked on $10,000 outdoor grills


-- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.

Jason Notte is a reporter for His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, The Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.