Top 10 Unconventional Recession Indicators

I found this on the Huffington Post over the weekend: Top Ten Unconventional Indicators Of The Recession. It’s a slide show, more fun there than here, but in case you’re interested:

  1. Home movie rentals: up during recession. Netflix, Redbox and others are way up over last year. From The Atlantic.
  2. Urban farming: More people grow their own food during recession. “The National Gardening Association has found that 19 percent more people will grow their own fruit, berries, vegetables and herbs this year than last, and 54 percent say they are motivated by the prospect of saving money on groceries.” From Kiplingers.
  3. McDonald’s sales: apparently cheap meals do better during recession. McDonald’s same-store sales are up 7.1%. From the Washington Post.

    Flickr by pointnshoot

    Flickr by pointnshoot

  4. Going to the movies: normally up during recession. Up 9% for the first quarter of this year, compared to 2008. Kiplinger.
  5. The underwear index: sales of men’s underwear go down during recession. Economizing? They’re down 2.3% for 2009. Huffington Post, quoting Alan Greenspan.
  6. Dating increases during a recession: is way up. Kiplinger.
  7. The necktie index: sales go up during recession. Job interviews? They’re up 50% this year. From The Telegraph.
  8. (Ugh, I don’t like this one) New York Magazine proposed the hot waitress index: “the worse the economy, the hotter the waitresses.” That’s dumb. It shouldn’t have been included.
  9. Lipstick index: supposedly lipstick sales go up in recession. Affordable luxury? But they’re down this year. The Economist.
  10. The Bed Bath and Beyond Barometer. Proposed by Time Magazine. The explanation is that consumers who can’t go out or away upgrade their home. Ho-hum.


  • Kelly says:


    Is it just me, or shouldn’t underwear sales and dating go the same direction?

    Couldn’t help wondering, lol.

    Also interesting that both home movie rentals and theatres are doing well. Though that’s got to be because overall travel/ tourism is doing badly, same as the BBB Barometer, I suppose.



    • Tim Berry says:

      Hi Kelly, yes, you make a very interesting point there, slightly disturbing I suppose about dating and underwear, but I’m not going to think about that one for much longer since it’s men’s underwear, specifically. Tim.

  • Strategic Growth Advisors says:

    Tim, this is a very splendid post.

    The items 1 through 10 may contain things so simple, they can be taken for granted in our daily lives — but here’s the catch: they can be indicators of a recession. (Imagine having a burger and fries as recession indicators?)

    Thanks for sharing these and keep those articles coming!

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