Economics for clotheshorses: Help me learn how consumer goods and services & manufacturing and business practices have changed for better and/or worse.
Like you, I've been a consumer all my life. But I have this vague impression that the consumer experience changed dramatically in the mid-90s (said impression is necessarily vague because I didn't start earning my own living till 2000) and that the retail trade in things like clothes, shoes, books etc. now concentrates on higher and faster turnover, greater variety, shorter product lifespans, lower manufacturing costs and ever-increasing profits, with various consequences for quality.
Take shoes, for instance. Didn't different widths and half-sizes used to come standard? And weren't shoes made to be worn for longer than a season or two? And hasn't clothing gotten skimpier (thinner fabrics, shorter sleeves and pant legs)? And didn't there used to be more store assistants around?
What books or websites can I read to learn more about whether these impressions are correct, and what changes in manufacturing, marketing and consumption have brought them about? I have just finished reading Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre
, which touches on practices like trimming sleeve lengths on mass-produced shirts by a half-inch to cut costs, but I'd like to know more.
Apologies for the vagueness of the question and thanks in advance for any light more sophisticated MeFites can shed on my consumer paranoia.