Believe it or not, economists track the sales of jeans and denim as a potential insight into the future performance of the economy. It's cheap and lasts for ages. New jeans are one of the first things people buy when they think stuff is going to improve. Or they are naked. Latest figures from eBay.ie show that sales of women's jeans in Ireland have risen 7 per cent since January 2011, with sales of men's jeans up 20.8 per cent. Most of the action was fuelled by a bumper month in November. Could it be a sign of an imminent comeback by girl band b*Witched?
Faced with a mauling worse than any French pack could hand out, the Irish consumer has also had to pay off a big mountain of personal debt. The country is awash with the stuff and it's one of the big blocks to any recovery. Between December 2008 and December 2011, €1 out of every €3 borrowed on a consumer loan basis was taken off the principal. However, there is still a huge overhang of €315bn of bank loans to Irish residents in the form of mortgages, property sector and business loans. This is a slight improvement, but not nearly enough to push Irish accounts comfortably into the black.
Vehicle sales rose sharply in January, up 8 per cent on the year. All in all, some 16,392 vehicles were licensed in January 2012 compared with 15,176 in January 2011. Private car registrations numbered 14,507 in January, up from 13,624 last year. Man in a Van was also splashing out cash, with sales of goods vehicles up 11.7 per cent on the year. Splurging on big stuff like cars is a sign of confidence. Improving consumer confidence will provide the boiiiiiiing for any bounce in consumer spending.
Last weekend, each and every one of our government debt yields was south of 7 per cent. The benchmark nine-year note has now edged over at 7.04 per cent, but this is the key number that the markets watch out for on the way up. Smoke still pours out of the Greek timebomb and there's a nasty ticking coming from somewhere.
Sales of cappuccinos, flat whites and other hot drinks at Bobby Kerr's Insomnia chain rose 3.2 per cent on the same week last year. The resilience of the "affordable treat" sector is positive. On the other hand, have you ever tried to get to 11am without a cup of coffee?
Sunday Indo Business