Signs of the Slowdown?

Australian reader Jeremy Hagan points to a sign of the economic slowdown down under: Television stations have started carrying ads touting the benefits of television advertising.

It’s kind of like miles of highways where all the billboards are just ads for renting billboard space.


What signs of the slowdown have you seen lately?

Dave S

Half of my office got laid off yesterday...does that count?

Kevin M

I was just discussing with a coworker that I've seen a spike in "Cash for Gold" advertisements on television, which is right in line with the theory that pawn shops see a growth during economic downturns.

Likewise, I haven't noticed as many infomercials trying to sell me on real estate ventures or even on capitalizing on foreclosures. I guess the sponsors of these infomercials don't believe enough people have enough capital to make the program worthwhile.

Maybe, too, an important sign of weak economic activity: I seem to be spending a lot of the time on my couch, watching television late at night.


The most recent sign of a slowdown I've seen was looking at the week's machine setup schedule this morning in the factory at which I work.

Over the summer is was a page and a half. That's shrunk to about 1/2 page for the last few weeks.

Oh and the fact that we laid off people for the first time in many years. That was a small sign.


The mall feels like a ghost town...


My father-in-law's trucking business is booming right now. He's never been so busy and he can't really explain why completely.

His theory is that companies which would normally contract for long-range truck deliveries are instead opting for rail service for most of the trip, and then contracting out to smaller local companies (such as my father-in-law's) to finish hauling the load from the railroad end point.

The company doesn't have quite as much control over when the delivery is made, but the costs are substantially less.


I haven't closed a real estate transaction in more than six months in which the seller didn't bring money to the table or obtain short sale approval from their mortgagee. Also people in the area are accepting offers to purchase their real estate at 50% of the outstanding loan balance.


Gas below 2 dollars a gallon.


My 3rd grade students' parents are nearly all working second or third jobs, so there is no one to coach. The kids are acting out more and stressed out by smaller things (like a friend conflict). Several don't have winter gear. It's a real recession to everyone here in Michigan.


Fewer late night infomercials in general. One of our 5 broadcast channels has returned to showing late night movies while another airs international news coverage.

We're crossing our fingers for a return of the great Kung Fu Theatre that kept us entertained during college all-nighters.


15% RIF on Wednesday at my office. I think that counts as a slowdown.

Brad Koehn

How much less traffic there is during rush hour, on account of everybody staying home. Also, it's easier to get reservations at a lot of restaurants.

Richard R Grayson, MD

I moved my medical office to my home earlier this year to avoid high rent. Now I can afford to offer do-it-yourself-discounts to needy patients. When I was a teenager all the doctors in my town had home offices. I think we should popularize this idea again. Just think: it's deductible and I don't use any gasoline to get to work.

Mark Brucker

Casinos advertising that you can win a hybrid car!

John V

I saw this interesting tidbit by Matt Buchanan on the blog yesterday. Jay Vandenbree is President of Sony Electronics Consumer Sales:

"Sony knew the economy was going to hell back in February. How? Camcorder sales fell like a rock. Camcorders are the proverbial canary in the coal mine, plunging before everything else. (All of their vast historical data over the last few recessions back this up.) It's because, Vandenbree says, there's "nothing more discretionary than camcorders," so it's the first to go when consumers feel a crunch, making it an early warning sign.

"Unfortunately, there's nothing that'll ring the opposite direction, when everything's about to get better. Everything gets better at once. So we'll know life's good again when it actually it is."

Bobby G

Keep going people this is interesting comments reading.

Rob Stevens

I've seen several buy-one, get one (BOGO) deals lately. Costco is selling two 47" HDTVs for $2000. A Dodge dealership is running a Buy one (quad cab) truck, get a (single cab) truck free.

When car dealerships are giving them away, you know there's problems.

My credit union just started offering pay-day loans, too. As part of the loan, they deposit money into a savings account for you. Rates are far lower than usual payday lenders (18% APR rather than the nearly 400% with most), too.

Tkwon CMS

You know how there's always an 'inferior good' for every normal good?

if we assume that billboard and TV ads are normal goods... (which are the first to suffer when the economy is in a bad shape), what is the 'inferior' alternative?

M Todd

Advertising is the first thing to be cut because it is the budget that is easy to cut. Companies that are strapped for cash can suspend media purchase, agency projects and marketing literature.

The down side is reduced marketing efforts mean reduction in sales and less cash all around. It is a quick fix, but it is bad idea in a down market to reduce your aggressiveness in the market.

Big companies know that those who continue to advertise see increased market shares, or less of a drop than those who pull in the reigns. And when things pick up they increase their market shares because they are the first to be selected when people start spending again.

The old myth only big companies can afford to advertise is reality should be companies that advertise get bigger.


Especially, in these times I have seen economic slowdown. Today I went to a mall near my home and I noticed certain irregulaties: parking lots were twice as empty, stores had an excess of clerks and people working in them, and there were just not many people in the mall. Man! Its Christmas! Malls and stores should be pilled with people, money should be seen everywhere yet this year everything is moving slowly. Wow, the economy is doing bad.


The return of layaways.