Yes, this current financial crisis has really shaken the American economy to its core.

Consumer spending has been deeply affected, and the coming months indicate that consumers will become even more tightfisted when it comes to all those extras like eating in restaurants, traveling and purchasing cars and other big ticket items.

Consumers hunker down. With economic conditions worsening and the financial meltdown in the banking industry resulting in a massive tax-payer funded rescue package for Wall Street, recent surveys on consumer confidence revealed to us that all of the recent bad news will significantly alter consumer consumption in many ways as people cut back to brace themselves for what appears to be a long downturn.

Certainly, there will be more bagged lunches and time spent on cheap recreational activities like watching television, Internet surfing, more dinners prepared at home, fewer clothing purchases and even less text messages being sent.

Customers changing the way they spend. A recent poll conducted by WPP Group-owned Lightspeed Research for Ad Age showed that nearly 80 percent of those who responded have changed their purchasing habits within the past few weeks.

Seventy percent said they had reduced sending overall which affected holiday retail numbers significantly. And retailers aren’t the only ones affected. The auto industry is hurting as well. The survey shows only one-tenth of respondents purchased a car within the past three months. That goes for making car purchases in the following months as well.

Adjusting to the changes.  There is a bright spot for drtv media buyers trying to determine how to proceed during a time when consumers are focused on saving money more than spending it.

One recent consumer study showed that 81 percent of those surveyed said that advertisers should continue communicating about their products during the recession because they (the consumers) are more receptive during times like these to cost-saving messages and products that are considered worthy investments.