It’s hard to find anything which has not been affected by the current financial crisis. Here are some examples of what the recession means for specific things.
Business is booming for meat substitute Spam. Though Hormel’s share price has fallen with the overall market, Spam sales are soaring as the economic crisis leaves consumers strapped for cash. Spam was invented during the Great Depression and became a staple for Allied troops overseas in the 1940’s.
2. Marriage and Divorce
It appears that divorces may have slowed down since the financial crisis began. Despite most arguments being over financial issues, it may just be too expensive to pay the legal fees of a divorce and support two households. During the Great Depression, divorce rates dropped sharply, though they picked back up immediately thereafter.
The plunge in commodity prices has taken a toll on recyclers -- the whole movement may come to a halt as oil and metal prices fall. Used newspaper, used cardboard, and scrap metal prices have also seen a drop, in part due to dwindling home construction and slower automobile production. In the UK entire city councils are abandoning their recycling efforts, as they are no longer economically feasible.
Psychics, astrologers, palm readers and “professional advice-givers” say business is booming as clients come to them seeking financial guidance. Clients will typically pay $75 to $1000 for an hour’s worth of insight.
5. Holiday Parties
Companies are cutting back on their holiday galas. ABC News announced the cancellation of its annual celebration. American Express did the same, and cancelled 2009’s celebration as well. Party planners say that their corporate holiday party numbers will be off more than 10 percent this year compared to last.
6. Used Car Sales
The used car business is flourishing. Specifically, used car companies that offer buy-here/pay-here financing for lower credit individuals who have been locked out of traditional lending. But it may be a good time to buy new Car dealers are desperate to get rid of inventory and are offering invoice and below invoice prices. Look for dealers that have a lot of inventory, because they’ll likely offer the best deals.
7. Iceland Tourism
Once an economic success story, this small country is now bankrupt. Its three largest banks were oversized and highly leveraged, and seemed ready for collapse in early October. Iceland’s currency, the krona, is essentially valueless, and foreign trade has come to a halt. But tourism appears to be on the rise. Airfare search engines report a 400 percent increase in Iceland flight searches. A recent search of round-trip flights from New York found tickets at a record low of $471.
8. College Endowments
Since many college endowments are invested in alternative asset classes, which have lost value, they’re seeing unprecedented losses. Many college and university endowments are projected to have decreased by 30 percent this fiscal year. For Harvard, that may mean an $11 billion drop. That may mean a decrease in financial aid.
9. Lipstick & Hosiery Sales
The Lipstick Indicator is an economic theory proposed by Leonard Lauder, the chairman of Estée Lauder Companies. The theory states that a direct relation exists between rising sales in tubes of lipstick and a falling financial market; the worse the economy, the more women indulge in small purchases like $10 tubes of lipstick. There are conflicting reports as to whether Lauder’s theory is holding up this downturn. But hosiery sales rose 2.3 percent this year, with Spanx seeing a 77 percent increase in sales compared to last year.
Very few sports have been hit harder by the economic crisis than NASCAR. From ticket sales to souvenir sales to team sponsorship from large companies, racing is reeling. The average NASCAR team relies on corporate sponsors for 80 percent of its budget. And many of those corporate sponsors are facing high-profile hard times of their own. As a result, some NASCAR teams, including Chip Ganassi Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc., have merged in an attempt to attract corporate sponsors.
11. Personal Maintenance
According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, gym memberships have been on the decline since 2007. And there’s no sign that these former gym rats are instead opting for cosmetic surgery -- 53 percent of plastic surgeons say business has slowed.
12. Sex and Sex Addiction
The financial crisis just might spark a baby boom. According to the Telegraph, sales of sex toys, pregnancy tests, maternity clothes, and baby equipment are soaring. But that’s not the only place sex may have increased. Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan psychotherapist, has seen a big jump in the number of Wall Street workers who seek help for sex addictions. Apparently, the economic crisis has sparked “maladaptive coping mechanisms” among bankers, according to Jodi Conway, a sex addiction therapist in New Jersey.