A survey last fall, just before the annual holiday spending spree, revealed strong indications that the year-end gift-buying binge would be significantly attenuated as a result of the tanking economy and uncertainty about consumers’ individual financial futures.

The survey indicated that spending would be down, overall, over the 2008 holiday season, with consumers saying they would be less likely to spend large amounts on each member of their families and more likely to pool their available gift-buying funds to acquire one or to major items the whole family could enjoy.

And the survey was, by and large, right.

Earlier this year, major big-screen television makers, in particular, began announcing unprecedented layoffs and scrambling to restructure as big-ticket gadget sales, in general, continue slow this year. Consumers are, generally, holding back on new big-ticket purchases that don’t fall into the ‘necessity’ category.

Other gadget-oriented industries report that their customer bases are cutting back on gadgets, even on those such as cell phones needed for work. In fact, many users are downgrading their phones and/or service plans to the basic levels they need to do what they have to do. No more toys. No more frills.

A new trend which follows logically on these developments is leading to a mini boom in the service sector. In short, gadget lovers are either making do with their old gear or opting to have it repaired rather than just replacing it if it breaks.

“The per cent of our business devoted to repair is definitely increasing,” Paula Baldwin, the ‘Mistress of Propaganda’ at on-site service giant Geek Squad, recently told reporters. “[People are opting] to either repair that gear or add to its functionality and what [the product] does for them.”

So… If you’ve recently been caught up in the wave of tech industry layoffs and have the requisite skills — it appears that there’s never been a better time to open a service shop!

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