This article is concerned with the role consumption plays in the neoliberal reinvention of the post-industrial city. Neoliberalism, as imposed for example through the orthodoxy of the creative city, continues to have profound implications for the everyday nature of city life. Above all perhaps, this orthodoxy has created a city that is increasingly defined by elites through and by consumption. In this context cities appear to have become increasingly defined by disparities of wealth and are thus the product of a situation in which the opportunities they engender are more open to some social groups than they are to others. Acknowledging this to be the case, this article considers the suggestion that a tendency to condemn the neoliberal city without sufficient recourse to how that city is experienced by consumers may result in an underestimation of the subtleties of the neoliberal project. Furthermore, ‘consumer studies' may, as a result, be destined to exist on the disciplinary fringes where the paradoxes with which it grapples can be more easily contained. The article calls for a re-evaluation of the neoliberal city as an emotional experiential entity in which active forms of consumption might potentially take place.