Our Past | 1960: How was a dollar spent?

Selected by Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

How was a dollar spent in Douglas County in 1959? This article from the Sept. 1, 1960 edition of the Waterville Empire-Press spells it out.

Food Sales in Douglas County 1.5 Million

Food occupied the top spot last year in Douglas County budgets.

Out of every dollar spent in the local retail stores, 22 cents went to buy food for the family table. That was a bigger piece of the dollar than was spent for any other product.

The amount of money expended for food locally is revealed by the Standard Rate and Data Service in connection with its national survey of spending trends.

Its breakdown shows how the retail dollar was apportioned, as between food, apparel, home furnishings, automotive supplies and the rest, in each part of the United States.

In Douglas County, the grocery stores, meat markets, bakeries, delicatessens and other places offering food for home consumption had sales totaling $1,488,000 in the year.

This was exclusive of the amount that was spent in restaurants, at lunch counters and elsewhere where food and drink are consumed on the premises.

The large-scale spending for food was a reflection of the improvement in purchasing power locally. It showed itself in sales of the luxury-type eatables, such as the more expensive cuts of meat, and in sales of frozen foods and ready-to-serve dishes. Housewives were willing to pay something extra to get convenience foods.

Most other kinds off retail stores in Douglas County also enjoyed large sales volumes in the year, the report shows.

Outlets for automotive equipment and supplies, including motor vehicles, boats, trailers and accessories, accounted for $776,000, equal to 12 cents of the dollar.

Variety stores, department stores and others selling general merchandise chalked up $95,000, amounting to 1 cent.

The U.S. Census Office of Business Economies finds that consumer purchasing in the nation rose 7 percent above the 1958 total. It states that both the value and the volume of buying were the highest on record.