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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Men's Underwear Sales, and other leading economic indicators

Michael Brush has a fascinating, to me anyway, article outlining some unusual economic indictators that may signal when we're headed towards economic recovery. Among the ways Alan Greenspan tracks consumer sentiment is how long men will suffer with frayed underwear. He reasons that confident consumers are less likely to put up with ratty boxers:

Greenspan reasons that because hardly anyone actually sees a guy's undies, they're the first thing men stop buying when the economy tightens. (He told this to National Public Radio's Robert Krulwich years ago.)

By extension, pent-up demand means underwear sales should be among the early risers when growth returns and consumers feel confident enough to shrug off "frugal fatigue," says Marshal Cohen, the chief industry analyst with NPD Group, which tracks consumer behavior.

After a 12-month, 12% decline through the end of January, men's underpants sales leveled off during February and March, according to NPD. That suggests the economic was stabilizing, Cohen says.

Among the other outside the box indicators, bra sales, returns of high-end items, and honeybees. Yes, honeybees.

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