File these under economic indicators we’re not unhappy we hadn’t thought of before:
Buying patterns too, can be predicted in economic downturns, according to Leo J. Shapiro, who has tracked consumer behaviour since he was a young man in the late 1930s.
“DURING a recession, laxatives go up, because people are under tremendous stress, and holding themselves back,” said Mr. Shapiro, now chief executive of SAGE, a Chicago-based consulting firm. “During a boom, deodorant sales go up, because people are out dancing around. When people have less money, they buy more of the things that have less water in them, things that are not so perishable. Instead of lettuce and steak and fruit, it’s rice and beans and grain and pasta. Except this time the price of pasta’s so high that it’s beans and rice.”
A recent Nielsen report listed tobacco, carbonated drinks and eggs as especially vulnerable to recession, and candy, beer and pasta sauce as recession-proof. On Thursday, Hershey’s announced third-quarter sales and income higher than last year’s. (“We offer a tremendous variety of affordable indulgences, and people love chocolate, even in hard times.” said Kirk Saville, a company spokesman.)