When we think about big-spending Japanese with bulging wallets, the usual stereotype is the young 'office ladies' who live with their parents and spend lavishly on foreign travel and luxury goods; and businessmen with sumptuous expense accounts. But over the years, those free-spending gals have become wives on tight family budgets. And recession-bound Japan Inc has trimmed the wining and dining ways of the 'salarymen'. Nearly everyone in the country is pinching pennies as jobs vanish and incomes drop. Japanese wage earners' spending fell 1.8 per cent in May from a year earlier - the eighth month in a row. This is worrying since consumer spending accounts for 55 per cent of Japan's gross domestic product One exceptional group of people, however, not only continues spending, but also spends even more than before: Japan's senior citizens. According to a recent survey by Daiichi Life Insurance's research arm, in the first quarter of this year, households of consumers aged over 60 spent 87.2 per cent of their disposable income - up 6.5 percentage points from the year before. In the same three months, spending dropped among consumers in aged 20-29 and remained unchanged among those aged 30 to 59. The research institute points out that people over 60 tend to have far greater and stable net assets, with lower debts, than younger people. Their generation enjoyed fast-growing incomes during the years of rapid economic growth between the l960s and late 1980s. They built up their personal assets before the bubble burst, and generally own their homes. Marketers are fully aware of this group's fat wallets. About 60 per cent of the people buying Sharp's Aquos-series TV sets - priced at 500,000-700,000 yen (HK$32,900-HK$46,100) for 30- and 37-inch models - are over 50. Sales of beds with electrical controls, for elevating and lowering, doubled at the Takashimaya department store in Tokyo in the second quarter over the same period last year. The beds cost 400,000-500,000 yen - double the price of ordinary beds, and the main buyers are married couples aged 50 and older. Many older parents who can afford it support their children financially. But the greying shoppers are increasingly concerned about their future. Medical costs are mounting and pensions for new retirees are being squeezed. When they stop spending, the Japanese economy will feel the bite.