Americans are spending again, but what they are spending their money on has permanently changed since the Great Recession, and that's raised the bar for retailers confronting this new reality.
The permanent wealth loss suffered in 2008, along with the shock of major American companies seemingly going bust overnight, did a number on our sense of what can be taken away, said Sarah Quinlan, MasterCard senior vice president and head of Market Insights.
"We value a sense of what's permanent, what we can take with us: memories," Quinlan said.
That's having a profound effect on where people are choosing to spend their money and on the retailers that are performing well.
Speaking to CNBC last week, Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren said consumer spending "is in automobiles, it's in housing, it's in health care, it's in certain apps that they are downloading, and they are going to get back to our categories, but they certainly weren't there to the degree we expected them to be this last quarter."