Odd Economic Indicator: Its in the Bag!

Sometime ago, Dan Gross got us thinking about all manner of weird economic indicators. This one, via Merrill Lynch, falls cleanly into that categories: Luggage Sales:


Luggage sales fall off the carousel
Unit sales of luggage: 6-month annualized % change, (millions)


chart courtesy of  Merrill Lynch:

David Rosenberg:

We track luggage sales as a barometer of travel plans – and they have fallen in two of the past three months and are running at a near-record 35% annual rate over the past six months. Either people intend to stay close to home (which requires a ‘cocooning’ theme) or those who do intend to travel are scaling back their suitcase purchases in response to the advent of these airline per-bag fees.

Why buy a bag that is only going to be another cash-flow drain? Simply wear everything you would have packed (not comfortable but a lot cheaper).


Empty suitcase: No Luggage Sales = No Travel Plans
David Rosenberg
Merrill Lynch, July 7, 2008

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Steve Barry commented on Jul 7

    Freddie Mac has fallen off a cliff…nobody seems to care. WAKE UP!!!!!! Down almost 20% in a few days. Fed will be in emergency mode to shore them up and won’t be able to rescue the IndyMacs of the world. Several homebuilders in grave danger also…anybody care????

  2. Dennis commented on Jul 7

    and in other news, tent sales climb! (ht mish) Coincidental?

    Though cold weather delayed the start of Michigan’s camping season this year, tent retailers and manufacturers say they are now seeing a spike in sales as families take to the woods for local, low-cost fishing and hiking trips.

  3. MarkTX commented on Jul 7

    With the airlines charging passengers per bag fees,

    this “indicator” has room to run on the downside.

    As for FME,FNM, maybe even SLM,

    OUCH!!!!!!(not only for the stocks but for the taxpayers)

    Bailouts to come….

    GSA’s and LUGGAGE??????

  4. VennData commented on Jul 7

    …an indicator which uses a different kind of bag.

  5. michael schumacher commented on Jul 7

    I seem to remember making a comment about luggage futures in Iran and Syria……..

    BTW Massa needs to be fired for his “performance” over the weekend.

  6. Steve Barry commented on Jul 7

    I’m just waiting till CNBC realizes the system maybe crashing as they fiddle…

    To tie it all together…bag sales down…all bagholders already have their bags…Freddie and Fannie going bust…tent sales rise.

  7. Steve Barry commented on Jul 7

    Say this fast 3 times..Fannie and Freddie in Freefall

  8. Steve Barry commented on Jul 7

    HOLY CRAP!!!! Freddie falling apart…I’m off to my hidden bunker. Later!

  9. Joe Klein’s conscience commented on Jul 7

    What happened to the Dow? It just fell off a cliff. I am not in front of a TV right now, unfortunately.

  10. Steve Barry commented on Jul 7

    Seriously..I never laughed so hard as just now…Freddie down 24% and Pisani blames energy for the market drop.

  11. michael schumacher commented on Jul 7

    my guess is that IMB is about to be officially
    “taken out”…..

    Trading halt earlier on it……trading minimal shares at this point…few hundred here and there.

    That futures pump lasted all of 3 hours…..a little less in reality..


  12. Steve Barry commented on Jul 7

    I’m in the twilight zone…only myself and FRE shareholders know what is going on. Nobody on CNBC sees it either.

    NOTE: Now commenting from my hidden bunker, outfitted with wi-fi.

  13. scorpio commented on Jul 7

    luggage indicator: “get me outa heeeeeere!”

  14. Dev Null commented on Jul 7

    How do you subscribe to the Morning Market Memo?

  15. Movie Guy commented on Jul 7

    How are European luggage and tent sales?

    The USA answers were obvious.

  16. Mike in NoLA commented on Jul 7

    Man, am I kickin myself. Sold out my SKF at 150 thinking I might miss “5 or 10 points” concerned about intervention. It’s now up to 173. I suppose it’s on Fannie and Freddie and there will soon be intervention.

    This also shows what confidence the markets have in G8 meetings and pompous proclamations of positivism.

  17. Martin commented on Jul 7

    It’d be interesting to see the luggage stats broken down into checked bags and carry ons.

  18. Richard commented on Jul 7

    Every economist has their favorite indicator. Thirty years ago the manufacturing output at GE Appliance Park in Louisville Ky was considered a bellwether for the economy.

    Right now everyones talking about silver linings, but the forecast is torrential rain.

  19. michael schumacher commented on Jul 7

    of course since LEH says the market goes to 1630 in the second half….

    What is 90% of LEH’s assets in again????

    Thanks for playing.


  20. David commented on Jul 7

    Interestingly enough, I had just read a weekend piece in the FT about the resilience of global tourism (at least for those who could still afford it).

    Here it is, for anyone who would like to check it out: “Global tourism defies slowing economic trends”.

  21. Alaskan Pete commented on Jul 7

    Wonder if the new fees for baggage are influencing this data? Didn’t a couple of carriers just add on fees for more than 1 checked bag or something?

  22. donna commented on Jul 7

    These days it’s easier to just ship your stuff ahead of you in a cardboard box and ship it home. For the rate some airlines are charging for bags, you might as well.

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