Like most of you I got a little tired of hearing about the recession so I stopped writing about it for a while, but because of a recent report it’s back on a lot of people’s minds now. (I’m sure for some of you, it was never far from your mind.) According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (a group of economists whose job it is to determine when recessions officially begin and end), the recession ended in June 2009. Did you feel it? I’m going to go with “not really.” (We’re in the middle of gathering our data to determine the size of the nail industry for the current year, so look for our numbers next month in the 2010-2011 Big Book.)
The official word from the Bureau is that the recession lasted 18 months (the longest since World War II) but it’s likely going to take a whole lot longer to pull our country out of the hole that it’s in. Unemployment is still at 9.6%. And that’s to be expected. It takes companies some time to regain confidence in the country before they run out and start rehiring their workforce. It’s safe to say that most businesses and individuals are still feeling the effects of the recession.
But there are little signs that confidence is growing. Take heart in the little signs that your business is recovering — your book has fewer holes, there seems to be genuine consumer interest in a longer-lasting (and more profitable) gel-polish manicure, and many nail product manufacturers have reported small increases in their business this year.
Another sign that lifts my spirits is that as I write this the September issues of all of the consumer fashion magazines just came out and they are bigger than I’ve seen them in the last few years. In a recent article, The New York Times called the September fashion magazines “the magazine world’s most glamorous economic barometer.” You can see how that makes sense: Vogue’s September 2007 issue was the biggest issue on record with a massive 727 ad pages. September 2008 (technically well into the recession) saw the number dip to 674 ad pages. And September 2009 was all the way down to 430 ad pages. But this year (a year after the recession has ended), Vogue’s September issue made a 100-plus jump to 532 ad pages. Certainly not back to 2007 standards, but that’s up 24% over last year. (NAILS also saw an increase in ad pages over last year, albeit on a much smaller scale.) And that seems like a step in a positive direction.
I think what we’re going to see is a trickle-down effect. As more companies see these big consumer brands breathing a sigh of relief that the recession is over, they’re likely to follow suit. And when companies start to have confidence that things are looking up, they’ll start spending more money and hiring more people, who can then start spending more money themselves, and so on and so on. So what I’m saying is that a fat issue of Vogue in my mailbox seems like a sign of good times ahead.
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