Consumer trends - predicting the economy?

August 26, 2010 | Teresa

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Consumer confidence plays a major role in how healthy the economy is. The recent disappointing news regarding the US housing market sent investors scrambling for safer investments. How we shop (or don't shop) plays a major role in the bigger economic picture.

So what do fashion trends have to do with business? For years there has been the notion that the hemlines of skirts are somehow related to economic trends.  It turns out that perhaps because trends in fashions have changed so much, this may not necessarily be so.

But what is the significance of another recent trend?  The New York Times, in an article entitled "A Bet on Last Century's Styles To Open This Century's Wallets" (June 12, 2010, p 1, B4), reported that some retailers such as Eddie Bauer, LL Bean and Jantzen are combing their old catalogues and updating fashions that appeared in the 40's and 50's for selling to todays consumers.  Are we longing for happier (simpler times?).  Maybe so.

So what sources are out there to help chart the way of the future for retailing and perhaps predicting the next big wave in the economy?  A good source to check out is Canadian Retailer, a publication of the Retail Council of Canada. Statistics Canada issues a publication called "The Daily" that helps chart trends in the economy, including retailing.

Trends in the United States retail market can be charted by looking at a publication that STORES Media and Deliotte Touche Tohmatsu conduct yearly on the Top Retail Trends (2010) as well as the top 250 retailers.  The United States Census Bureau has a number of business related publications that chart their economy on a regular basis as well.

So remember the next purchase you make could make a difference to the health of the economy!