To buy a car comes in third after buying a house or being espoused for costing big bucks. People invest when the future looks good. This list of car sales in Europe (mostly plunging) tells an interesting tale.
Link to Mish Shedlock's site.
More information on the source story: "Portugal leads drop"
Coming at this from a different angle, a story in 2004 from Iraq. "Marriages up by as much as 60%" after Saddam ousted.
And a third angle: Why are American banks not lending and consumers with money spending little? Economic insecurity seen ahead.