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Everyone knows it’s dangerous to make predictions—and even more risky to write them down for others to see and judge! But let’s give it a try anyway.

According to one commentator, the dominant trend for 2013 will be one that seems like an oxymoron: premium (or luxury) convenience. That is, people are no longer willing to visit big box supercenters on the edge of town for the lowest prices, because they simply do not have the time. Their financial budgets may be tight, but their time budgets are even tighter. This effect might result from people being forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, but it also does not look likely to change anytime soon. Thus drugstores such as Duane Reade are on every corner, but they also offer quick luxury splurges, such as manicure stations, for busy shoppers.

In a somewhat similar trend, people in the United States are driving less now than they did a few years ago—the first time in automotive history that the trend has gone down rather than up. Consumers want pedestrian-friendly, semi-urban living spaces rather than sprawling suburbs. Being able to walk to work, the dry cleaners, or the neighborhood coffee shop means not just a sense of community but also much lower gasoline bills. With their minimal driving needs, these same consumers are seeking out smaller, fuel-efficient cars, which suggests some tough times ahead for big, luxury sedan makers.

Another key trend for 2013 is exemplified by perhaps the biggest global cultural phenomenon from 2012: Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” That’s right: The annoyingly viral video represents the ways in which the world is changing. The middle classes of developing, non-Western countries are likely to outnumber middle class consumers in developed nations this year. Expanding globalization and changes to traditional roles implies that not too far in the future, “we may watch Chinese sitcoms on Brazilian-invented streaming devices made in Africa.”

These predictions all seem clearly sourced from current economic conditions and scenarios. Whether they will play out as planned remains to be seen. Let’s meet again next year to see how well we did.

Source: Adam Davidson, “What’s It Going to Be, 2013?” The New York Times, January 2, 2013

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