The lingerie economic bellwether

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal carried an interesting report on how savvy industry analysts scour retail aisles to sniff out nascent signs of a consumer revival.  One of those worthies noted that since lingeries are "a highly discretionary purchase" it is a reliable indicator of consumers' being more inclined to prise open their wallet. The article quotes the analyst as saying that  the "mess on the underwear table at Victoria's Secret   may be a good sign" Apparently, the lingerie brand has been one of the busiest spots in the mall this season, even while offering far fewer promotions than its neighbors.

More conventional economic bellwethers seem to buttress the foregoing. American Express' Business Insight report released a few days ago notes with regard to the lodging industry that "mature affluent spenders invested in hotels, motels and inns and drove a significant 41% increase in lodging spend." The trend with regard to airlines was similarly heartening as the analysis revealed that "the corporate travel segment is on the rebound" with value as a top priority. The latter was highlighted by the fact that business class ticket purchases dwarfed the first class category.  On a broader macro-economic level the Conference Board's gauge of the outlook for the next three months reported that the "index of U.S. leading economic indicators increased in November by the most in eight months, a signal the recovery will strengthen early next year."

The US Federal Reserve does take note of hotel statistics in its octonary (eight times) report which includes anecdotal information on current economic conditions, hotels are more co-incident than leading indicators. Nevertheless, hotel markets across the US seem to validate some of the conclusions mentioned above. A report from Steamboat Springs, CO notes that lodging occupancy this month is expected to move well past last year's numbers. As was the case in Orlando per a report in the Orlando Business Journal. A recent Maritz travel report says that based on its annual poll "28 percent of Americans plan to travel for the holidays which is up from 23 percent in 2009. Most encouragingly the Maritz report says that "holiday travelers plan to spend, on average, $349 more than they did last year: $1,203 in 2010, up 41 percent from $854 in 2009!" A good reason for some holiday cheer.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

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