How far the US economy declines has yet to be seen.
As individuals protecting ourselves and our families, we may see a return to bartering as one way to increase our lifestyles without leaving a paper trail or a money trail.
The more oppressive the government becomes, the larger the informal economy will be. Instead of just having a farmers market to pick up some fresh tomatoes, we may have an informal economy that covers a large number of goods and services.
Bartering is hard. During the days when I was a Peace Corps volunteer, we had to learn to bargain to buy everything in the local economy.
What happens with Americans used to grocery stores and fixed prices, is that you get really pissed and have to bargain over every item such as a bottle of Coca-Cola or even a loaf of bread.
The hustle and bustle of outdoor black markets represent freedom bursting at the seams. informal Markets allow otherwise oppressed inhabitants of a country to survive.
Although farmers’ markets, swap meets, flea markets, thrift stores, yard sales, and garage sales have increased over recent years in the U.S., they haven’t yet reached the magnitude of the informal economy in developing countries. They will get much bigger when the economy tanks again. People will choose to go “off the books” rather than subsist in forced poverty at the hands of the government.
I know there are some primitive cultures that are all based around bartering.
But once you get past a subsistence level, there's not much need to waste time on bartering for a tube of toothpaste.