Call Them Henrys

Photograph by Stephen Yang/Bloomberg

A window shopper in New York.

Aka, a High Earner Not Rich Yet.

That’s what retail consultants call people who earn $100,000 to $250,000 a year and shop everywhere from Target to Saks. They make up 21 million U.S. households.

Mac McKay is one of them. He runs a flower shop in Virginia — a swing state which Barack Obama won by 52.6 percent in 2008. He also lives in Arlington, one of the richest counties in the U.S. But McKay’s planned vacation, his first since the recession? No longer happening. And his $30,000 kitchen renovation? Scrapped.

“Every time you see someone, they tell you these horror stories about their company going down. Everywhere you look, there are layoffs. It has everyone spooked,” McKay said in a story this morning from Bloomberg’s Matt Townsend.

Henrys are the “heavy lifters of the consumer economy,” says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, and they’ve helped the U.S. economy muddle through last year. If this particular group becomes more cautious, she says, it “would be very bad for the economy” and the sputtering recovery.

So if Henrys are spooked by the economic signs — unemployment rates, the slowing global economy, the Euro debt crisis — and pull back on their spending, what could that mean for the presidential election?

If nothing else, it bolsters challenger Mitt Romney in his attacks against President Obama. The Romney campaign has been consistently hitting the president on the economy, and are promising a bright new “Day One.” In return, the Obama campaign continues to warn of “Romney Economics” and point to the former governor’s tenure in Massachusetts.

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