So Much for Belt-Tightening

By Tom Branna, VP/Editorial Director | September 3, 2009

Last month Olivier Blanchard, the top economist for the International Monetary Fund, declared the recession over. But he warned that the 18-month downturn will leave plenty of scars on the global economy. The very next day, data from NPD Group showed a 6% decline in accessory sales for the first six months of 2009. While sales of jewelry, watches and sunglasses declined anywhere from 3 to 12%, sales of belts surged 32%!

Maybe I’m reading too much into all of this, but did these lean, tough economic times force folks to lose weight and head out to department stores to purchase new belts to keep their pants up? And if so, why not just put another notch in your belt and keep the damn thing instead of throwing it out in favor of a new one?

That, in essence, is why the recovery won’t be as gut-wrenching as industry experts predict. For better or worse, we live in a throwaway society, and after 18 months of doing without, more consumers are gearing up and getting ready to spend, spend, spend. I’m not predicting that the economy will come roaring back, but I suspect it will grow in the second half and post a 5% gain in 2010. Along the way, companies will stop shedding jobs and start adding staff, which will be enough to sustain economic growth for at least a couple of years.

Belt-tightening and a bit of soul-searching also has been the norm in the home fragrance market for the past couple of years, as this once dynamic category has seen its growth snuffed out by a variety of factors. Still, as Melissa Meisel reports, market leaders are rolling out an array of new fragrances and ways to enjoy them. Find out more by reading Room to Breathe.

Looking for a growth category? Read Seeing the Light on Happi.com. Christine Esposito details the many opportunities that still exist in the sun protection category. After all, most parents don’t apply sunscreen to their children once the cooler weather arrives and while most adults understand that UV protection is critical, they don’t act upon it on a daily basis.

As always we welcome your comments and suggestions.