Americans are increasingly spending more money on buying “experiences,” such as travel and eating out, and less on hard assets, such as cars and appliances, reports Virginia Postrel in the Sept. 9 issue of the New York Times.

Postrel, ( the author of “The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture and Consciousness,” says Americans spent 40% of their income on services in 1959, compared to 58% in 2000. And, in 1959, consumers spent 25% of their income on food, compared with 14% in 2000; but meals at home consumed 19% of income in 1959, compared to 8% in 2000.

She says restaurant meals have changed, too, as more of their value increasingly comes from the experience the restaurant provides. For successful restaurants, aesthetics is no longer an afterthought. Customers are paying for memories, not just for fuel, Postrel writes.