Credit crunch shows itself with big ticket items

CHICAGO Getting a loan could become more and more difficult the longer the economic uncertainty drags on in the U.S. Most Americans are used to using credit, which keeps our economy moving.

Now, things are slowing down- and Americans may notice the difference in big ticket items.

The Beck family's dishwasher went out, as did their microwave. So they're in the market for some new appliances at ABT Electronics. What would have been flat out purchases a year ago, now they're using partial financing to pay for it. Kevin beck works for a building supply company. "When things were a lot better, we could pretty much come in and shop around pay cash and walk out," said Kevin Beck, credit applicant.

"To finance different for us. It's not like the old days. But there's no choice at this point," said Tracey Beck, credit applicant

ABT uses an outside firm for credit financing. Management has been warned that credit approval may not be as easy as it has in the past.

"We used to pretty much guarantee instant approval, but now they're upholding the right to up to 24 hours," said Marc Cook, ABT Electronics.

The Spanns - both small business owners - put a lot of thought into buying a new television at ABT. They waited and saved, so they don't need to use any credit financing.

"I'm very strategic so this is something that we really thought about a lot," said Rosemary Spann, ABT Customer.

Marjen of Niles has been offering discount furniture and bedding for over fifty years. The store manager says about a third of their customers use financing to pay for purchases and in the last 30 days it's been harder for customers to get the credit they want.

"When they do credit application, you know, they don't get as much as they expected they could get… they're not giving the credit as they used to," said Nancy Grinell, Marjen Furniture.

Professor Elijah Brewer teaches finance at Depaul University. He says until the banking system has an infusion of capital banks will be more cautious in lending.

"Until we establish a floor for the real estate issues the banks will have problems and continue to be reluctant to lend," said Prof. Elijah Brewer, DePaul University

At Marjen, employees are hoping things pick up before the owners need to made hard decisions about how to keep this family owned business going. Marjen is seeing fewer people willing to spend on big ticket items like furniture.

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