Some of you laughed when Sheldon Liber pointed to sales of art and crafts in Venice Beach, Calif., as a leading economic indicator -- and some of you (like me) thought it prescient. I couldn't help agreeing, as I'm dialed into the crafts scene here in Portland, Ore., and have watched a startling decline in artsy-fartsy sales since last fall.
Reading today's MarketBeat from The Wall Street Journal [subscription required], then, I found the latest kooky indicator: Bobby. More to the point, the sales of Bobby's grilled chickens. He owns and operates a lunch grill somewhere in the Great Lakes, and his business has fallen sharply, despite lowering his price-per-lunch plate from $7 to $6.25. Notably missing amongst his regulars: the blue-collar workers.
Blogger Jeff Matthews discovered Bobby, and he believes Bobby's chicken sales are an indicator. He writes, "Being in the Midwest, and being a half-dozen hours north of Detroit, what we have here is the real-life impact of those GM and Ford oops-we-make-gas-guzzlers-and gas-is-$3.00-a-gallon headlines, multiplied across dozens of factories and thousands of lives dependent on those companies and their gas guzzlers for work." Matthews believes we'll see the impact in GM, Ford, Toll Brothers, Centex Homes, Lowes, Home Depot.
I'm fascinated to see if these theories end up being correct. Could a slowdown be in the works for the fall?