Bargains and the Great Recession

Americans are being cheap right now, illustrated by our two prevalent recessionary spending habits: Taking advantage of the bargains out there, like housing and vacations, and continuing to indulge in our less expensive habits such as candy, beer, pork rinds, and making love to get us through the tough times.

It’s no wonder consumer confidence is up. Even the National Federation of Independent Business “optimism index” rebounded to 86.8, up 5.8 points from April.  Look at travel, for example, which was abysmal last year. The travel search site KAYAK says its Annual Summer Travel Survey shows 95 percent of 4,100 people who participated in the survey plan to travel this summer compared to 64 percent last year. It appears deals at hotels and cheap airfares have supplanted the so-called “staycation.”

Deb Riechmann of the Associated Press researched a wealth of other industries and found among other things that first quarter profits at Hershey were up 20% and Kraft Foods  reported double-digit growth in macaroni and cheese dinners. She found love is up too, with condom sales rising 5% . Sales at Goodwill Industries International stores in North America were up 7% in March; sales at Saks, down 32%.  California wine sales increased 2% in 2008 from 2007. Spam, Dinty Moore stew and chili are up 6%.

In his daily e-newsletter “Rundown,” Jeff Crilley, Real News Public Relations, says he has found people are bypassing top-shelf brands, and sales of snacks like potato chips, ready-to-eat popcorn and even pork rinds are up a “whopping” 9.7 percent. Crilley says Pepin Distributing, a beer distributor in Tampa Bay, reports annual beer sales are up 5.6 percent. 

Okay, that’s a lot of numbers, but what it all boils down to is the recession that was once getting so many of us down has not got the best us. Our new “can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality is the perfect medicine for climbing out of this economic hole.

One mac ‘n cheese dinner at a time.

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