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Men's Underwear Sales As A Leading Economic Indicator

Can there be any clearer indication of the summer news doldrums than Ylan Q. Mui's piece this morning that posits that a man's underwear drawer may hold clues to such mysteries of the universe as "when will the recession end?" Here's the crux of the theory: When times are tough, men don't buy as much underwear as they do when times are flush. They'll try to get more mileage out of a pair of boxers, just like they will out of their jalopies.

We are informed that "no less an oracle" than former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan gave the theory credence in a radio report a few years ago. (But isn't he the same guy who claims he was "mystified" by the subprime market at the same time we thought he was overseeing it?)

Anyway, Mintel expects underwear sales to fall 2.3% this year, but only by 0.5% next year, which can be construed as good news. So can this quote from NPD Group senior analyst Marshal Cohen: "If this were a true, deep, long, embedded recession, [men] wouldn't even be buying underwear." As for me, I bought a package of Jockeys last week with a waistband a size smaller than usual. Talk about optimism.



Read the whole story at Washington Post »

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