Plain White T-Shirt For $7 Or $70? How Wealth Gap Is Changing Retail

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Source: Allison Linn / CNBC / NBC News

The growing wealth gap between the richest and poorest Americans is increasingly creating a shopping chasm between those who are trading up and those who are trading down, experts say. What’s missing is the middle.

“There is a two Americas kind of thing going on,” said Chris Christopher, director of U.S. and global consumer markets for IHS Global Insight.

The result is a retail marketplace in which even basic goods like socks and razors are becoming either incredibly cheap or extremely expensive, experts say.

Say you’re a guy who needs a new T-shirt. A shopper who feels like he has fallen down the economic ladder might opt for the $6.98 Kmart version. But a tech industry hotshot for whom things are looking up might be tempted by the $70 version available at Barneys.

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