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?


I guess my experience is a positive spin on these hard times. I was having some plumbing issues early this week and called a plumber for an appointment. He came within 30 minutes after I called. It used to take at least several days before they can schedule someone to come over but now there is a rapid response.

Also, I have noticed for quite some time that day laborers hanging around Home Depot stay longer in the day and they are not as numerous as before.

There are longer lines on fast food places and it is easier to get into regular restaurants. It is easier to find parking in shopping malls and for-sale listings on Craigslist have increased a lot, ranging from electronics, furniture and other household goods.

Chris Dillon

Our apartment overlooks the entrance to Hong Kong harbor. From our balcony we see just about every imaginable form of water transport: the QE2, bulk carriers, tankers, container ships and (just this morning) American warships.

Over the past couple of weeks, the volume of container ships seems to have dropped. And the outbound ones are riding higher in the water, suggesting that they're carrying less cargo.


I've seen a lot of change here in Singapore:

One airline is absorbing the fuel surcharge to get people on seats.

About 1 in every 6 commercials on TV is an ad by the TV company talking about the benefits of TV advertising and Nielsen ratings.

I can't get a seat on the bus to work anymore when I could bet my house on getting one before.

I got rejected for a small loan the other day (first time ever) even though I have no other debt and the loan was only equal to 2 months salary - the bank said their lending criteria was now really strict and it was because I hadn't been in my current job long enough (only 6 months) even though I've working since Uni for 9 years now (and have about 90% of my pay slips to prove it).

Oh, and I saw a 'massage parlour' (one of the dodgy ones) along the bus route to my home the other day that had a sign up saying 10% off - even the oldest profession in the world is feeling it.


Bret Cooper

Travel agency's are advertising on TV, uncommon for our stations. We are selling less Pergolas, Extensions to homes and carports but fully re roofing of a house and live in sheds/Barns are way up on normal for this time of year.


How about the abandonment of wine appreciation for coffee cuppings?

Gets you cheaper tastings with the same talk at the bar and a similar buzz.


My former company laid off 25% of their workforce a couple weeks ago, along with slashing salaries for several executives by 50%, and some fairly high guys all the way down to $23k plus commission (from >$100k).

David Chowes, New York City

Or, stores that used to be thriving and having signs in the windows announcing products and sales.

Now . . .


CALL: Joe Smith

at (2120 555-1100


David Chowes, New York City

[[Re: #23] Tel. # should be (212) 555-1100

R Lin

You know it's bad when attorneys are getting laid off.


Qantas airlines offering "2 for 1" international flights as Australians stay home.


The "inferior" alternative to TV ads is Direct Marketing - both traditional and Internet enabled alternatives. I'm in the business and we've been doing quite nicely for the last couple of months while there has been a lot of news about the general advertising spending dropping.

The point though is that DM is not an inferior alternative, it simply can be measured better and it is a quicker and more efficient way to directly boost sales instead of building "brand value" or other softer concepts. Thus, it is the choice for advertiser when going gets ruff.

Sue Fullman

Food shopping over the last few weeks I have noticed our local grocery store is empty even though they are offering pretty good sales and Costco is absolutely jammed with people.


There is a guy actually making money selling containers to stuff with cash and bury in your backyard. I guess you would have to ask him whether his business has improved recently


We know the lipstick index is up, which is usually a recessionary sign. A small, inexpensive purchase that makes the buyer feel better about themselves. McDonald's coffee is up vs. Starbucks. Store brands are up as a %. We could basically look at any substitute product that is cheaper and basically fungible to see a sign. Wal-Mart sales are up and almost everyone else is down. More restaurants going out of business. These indicators could be used both ways - up or down market.


The image made me think of a public service ad that one billboard company used to keep a not-very-popular billboard looking "active" when there were no clients. The photo showed a police car with lights flashing, as seen in the rear view mirror of a car. The delightful caption read "Fast, friendly service"!


I wonder if advertisements advertising themselves is really a sign of recession, or that the recession just triggered or sped up a move towards superior media. Billboards and TV ads are so much less efficient than targeted online ads....

as for signs of recession... I shop almost weekly at both Wal-mart and Whole Foods and it is clear that Wal-Mart is busier and Whole Foods is slower.


Some of the obvious: One particular corner in my town has men on each corner with huge signs: Circuit City Closing, Linen and Things Closing, Universal Furniture markdown. It's truly surreal to go through an intersection with harbingers of doom on all 4 corners.

I wonder if there is an agency that hires all of these guys (and they are all men). I hope that they have hired some of the panhandlers who normally stand on the same corners all day.

Jorge Andres

The last time i went to a mall near my house i saw a lot of locals empty, when in that locals were a shoe store or clothes store.

Also the costs of public transport increase about 16%, the gas increase 0.2 of peso cents every friday, companies are laid off people.

Mexico City

Chris V

Here in Greece,bank and automobile commercials have been extinguished while before the crisis they made up well above 70% of the total commercial time. Commercial breaks have become shorter than ever I can recall.


I work in the town centre. On my road in the last six months we've had Burger King close down and two pawnbrokers open.

The jobs section in the local paper has fewer jobs each week and more space devoted to soliciting adverts.