Economic Indicators

Newscoma has an interesting post about a situation in her biz that’s troubling: because nobody is buying cars right now, car dealers aren’t advertising, and newspapers are feeling it.

It’s funny (not ha ha funny, but weird in an interesting kind of way funny) that if you live long enough, you learn non-traditional signs that the economy is on a downturn – almost like old ladies reading the wooly worms in the fall.

The one I’ve noticed in the last two downturns is the “Cracker Barrel on A Saturday Morning” index.  We go about once a month, and the last couple of visits, we’ve been able to get a seat with no wait.

Most of you who do CB know that during headier times, a Saturday morning at Cracker Barrel usually means at least a 20 minute wait.  And you’ve got to wonder, does that mean that the Country Store sales are way down?  Not just because they have fewer customers, but because those customers have little or no wait time, thus decreasing their shopping time.

I don’t usually follow the economic reports,  like those on CNBC, because they are either too immediate (oil is up!  no, wait, it’s down! no, wait…) or too lagging the real world (“well, what do you know- we were already out of the recession when Bill Clinton was talking about the worst economy in the last 40 years in 1992…nevermind.”).

But, there are signs, for those who will see.  I think the news is going to get a little worse before it gets better. 

However, it will get better – probably in two or three quarters, no matter who gets elected president.

So, do you have any non-traditional economic indicators?


3 Responses to “Economic Indicators”

  1. Original Lee Says:

    One non-traditional indicator I use is the vacuum-seal food bag machines. During good economic times, you only see them on the Home Shopping Network or Vermont Country Store or something like that, but when you start seeing them at Sears and BJ’s, that’s indicative of an economic downturn. Also canning supplies – if you start seeing them in places that don’t normally carry them, that’s a sign, too.

  2. bridgett Says:

    Commercials extolling the tourist possibilities of staying at home. Furniture stores going under. Public works-type of projects even when the city is in the red (I live in a machine-politics town…there’s always a road to fix in a Democratic ward). Middle-aged men sitting around in parks at 2 pm.

  3. Katherine Coble Says:

    Lines at Wal-Mart. Sales at JCPenney. Types of shows on TLC and HGTV. (Although these are sometimes slightly lagging due to production time.)

    Frankly, I do think we’re headed for some tighter times for some folks. But I have noticed that those of us who don’t use credit cards tend to fare better in tight times. /end shameless plug for debt-free living.

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