· "Dry Cleaning Pickups Are Down The International Drycleaning and Laundry Institute is hearing gripes from many of its 5,000 members. Because of the poor economy, customers are visiting less frequently and leaving clothes longer. Customers who once came weekly now visit every two weeks, monthly customers visit bimonthly, and some people delay their pickups even longer to avoid the bill.
· More First Dates. Misery loves company. In the fourth quarter of 2008, online dating service Match.com was its busiest in seven years. When the Dow Jones industrial average dropped to a five-year low last November, the company had its second-busiest weekend of the year. Match.com believes people are looking for someone with whom they can forget about money troubles—or share the pain.
· More Green Thumbs. The National Gardening Association finds that the number of households that will grow their own fruits, berries, vegetables and herbs this year is 19% higher than in 2008. That makes 43 million gardeners in the United States this year—54% of whom say the prospect of saving money on groceries motivates them to till the soil.
· Goopier Eyelashes. You’ve got that recession look in your eye. Total eye-makeup sales at supermarkets and drugstores were up 8.5% in the one-year period that ended on March 22. In that period, more than $260 million was spent on eye makeup—in particular, eyeliner was up 9% and mascara almost 13%, the industry says. The leading lipstick indicator—the past trend that lipstick sales rose in economic downturns as consumers settled for inexpensive luxuries—is not holding up. Lipstick sales are down 11%.
· Romance Novels Are Hot. Harlequin, the giant romance-novel publisher, says its sales were up 32% in 2008 from the year before. In 2009, sales are still rising. The publisher credits the increase to its uplifting stories that offer a haven, and to the low prices of the books relative to other entertainment. Harlequin saw a similar sales increase during the recession of the early '90s.
· Packed Theaters. When times get tough, people go to the movies. Box-office sales have increased in all of the last five recession years. According to the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), the number of movie tickets sold in the first quarter of 2009 increased more than 9% from last year. People continue to fill theater seats, NATO says, because movies are one of the least expensive entertainment options out of the house. "
The full list of “10 Quirky Economic Indicators”
Sharon is the author of the Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money -- a coming of age memoir about money -- and a contributing writer in Wise Bread's 10,0001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.