First some research from Tourism Research Australia (the research arm of Tourism Australia). Their 2007 report "Changing Consumer Behaviour" (pdf) blamed a drop in domestic travel spend in Australia in part on the increasing share of discretionary spend going to consumer goods. Here is how they put it
"the increasing competition for share of wallet and of time, the industry may need to accept that domestic travel is unlikely to return to historically high levels....‘spending patterns and the benefits derived from it vary across the generations, although there are some constants: technology, cars and furniture...Generally those who are younger or more under pressure spend more on compensatory items to make them feel better about life. These tend to deliver instant gratification in a way that travel cannot."Lots of bureaucratic speak for people a buying bigger and flasher TVs, cutting into their travel spend.
Secondly there is a marketing example. Jetstar (low cost carrier offshoot of Qantas and previous winners of the BOOT "worst marketing idea of the week award"). Have teamed up with a large Australia consumer goods retailer called the Good Guys to give an appliance to one passenger on every flight between now and Nov 5. The hope being to convince customers that they can have their TV and beat it all at the same time.
Prizes range from a blender to a plasma screen though it is unclear from the T&Cs how to know which one is up from grabs in a particular flight.
Either way we have marketing and research evidence of this new battle front for the travel industry.