You’ve probably heard the term, ‘sell in May and go away’ in reference to the best time to get out of the market before a summer pull back. Whether or not weather plays a part in it, it is quite intriguing that such a barometer is even researched. It doesn’t end there though, just this last week Kiplinger published an article regarding 10 Quirky Economic Indicators that could possible give insight on the way the economy is moving. I’d like to take a closer look into this list.

1. Theaters are having no troubles keeping full.

Would you guess that during the last seven recessions, box office sale increased in five of them? Whether or not this surge of sales has anything to do with the hot new movies, one thing is certain is in rough economic times, people like to get out of the house to catch a good flick. In ways, it could be somewhat shocking considering after popcorn and drinks, a family of four could end up spending over $50.

2. Everyone wants to become a gardener.

The National Gardening Association has found an increase of 19% in gardening since 2008. If the opportunity is there, many people are finding it cost effective to grow their own fruits and vegetables. I suppose that is one downside of an apartment, although I know you can rent plots of land. We do have some chives sitting out on the deck!

3. Dating services flourish.

Match.com had noticed a pattern in their site activity. The fourth quarter in 2008 was one of their busiest, similar to the surge after 9/11. Are the rough times causing family break ups or are people looking for someone else to lean on to forget their financial troubles. Hopefully it’s the latter.

4. Romance novels are ‘hot’.

Romance novel publisher Harlequin is continuing to see their sales increase. Again, books in general could be a cheap way to entertain yourself and relax in a good book. Who knows what drives the romance sales, but Candice Jones put it best:

So if these stories start piling up unwanted on the discount table at the bookstore, alongside all those mis-timed guides to real estate riches, better news is on the way.

5. I’m tired, too.

Americans are losing sleep, literally. In a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, one-third of Americans lost sleep because they were worried about their financial situation especially the thought of losing their jobs. Look around you, are you seeing more people with bags under their eyes?

6. Put away the scalpel, for now.

Americans spent $10.3 billion on cosmetic surgery in 2008 which was actually lower than 2007. Of course, plastic surgery is a luxury and with the downturn in the economy, no doubt there is a decline in demand for cosmetic procedures. Just make sure you don’t go into debt by getting plastic surgery.

7. That glimmer in your eye, or is that just glitter?

Makeup sales are on the rise, specifically eye makeup with an increase in sales of over 8.5% year over year. However, the lipstick indicator has shown that sales are actually down 11%. If you can explain this to me, go ahead, I got nothing!

8. See you later alligator.

Savoie’s Alligator Farm is one of the largest alligator farms in the United States, who sell skins to luxury retailers such as Louis Vuitton. Fortunately (or unfortunately), those 100,000 gators are sitting pretty as no skins have been sold since November. If you start to see a flourish of gator gear, then you know times are turning around and I don’t mean the Florida Gators.

9. Hanging the Dry Cleaners out to dry.

It seems that the economy has forced dry cleaners to hold clothes longer as customers are not visiting as often. Since they are not picking up their clothes, the dry cleaners aren’t getting paid. It seems that dry clean customers have a new budget plan, avoid picking up dry cleaned clothes for as long as possible.

10. People are all itchy.

Because of the abundance of foreclosed and abandoned homes, swimming pools have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. These ‘green pools’ have nearly doubled to about 4,000 so far in 2009 according to Maricopa County Environment Services Department in Arizona. I’ve seen many shows where they actually have filled pools with fish to eradicate the problem. I really don’t consider Mosquitoes an economic indicator, just visit the Midwest in the summer. 🙂

So forget the consumer confidence index, jobless claims and existing homes sales, let’s talk romance novel sales, sleep deprivation index and alligator skin goods! OK, never mind the last one. 🙂

Do you notice any major changes in your behavior when the economy is booming or busting?

Stupidly Yours,

Matt