Powerhouse Products: What's Selling

  • Products Doing Well in the Recession

    The retail industry is slowly creeping out of the trenches, but it’s been a terrible year overall. Still, a select few products have managed to sell well this year despite the bad economy. These products are as close to recession-proof as it gets. It should come as no surprise that many of the ones on this list are things people buy to relieve stress. Guilty pleasures, sweet foods and fun gadgets all make the list, with a few surprises mixed in as well. Photo Credit: perisho
  • Netbooks

    In general, computer companies have been doing pretty lousy in this recession. PC sales fell by more than 4% this year, and Dell recently announced they are firing nearly 1000 employees. But there are signs now that the industry may be in a slow recovery. Yet, even in this climate, the netbook has sold consistently well. Netbooks are super cheap and compact computers that perform nearly as well as most laptops. Acer, a popular netbook distributor, saw its revenue increase by 15% in 2008. Meanwhile, overall netbook shipments increased sevenfold in the beginning of this year. Photo Credit: curiouslee
    Gardening Supplies
  • Gardening Supplies

    Nothing soothes the soul like gardening, which may explain why sales on vegetable seeds increased this spring. According to The Washington Post, small seed suppliers like the Landreth Seed Company saw a 75% increase in sales, while chains like Wal-Mart reported similar 30-40% gains in supplies compared to the year before. Photo Credit: USFS Region 5
  • Condoms

    We used up all our good jokes about condom sales climaxing in our previous article about sex. Let’s just stick to the numbers: condom sales increased by 6% in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 5% in the first quarter of this year. Photo Credit: quaziefoto
  • Tortillas

    Tortillas may soon overtake sandwich breads in this country. Sales have increased by 10% compared to last year. It’s unclear whether this is because tortillas are the perfect cheap food for cash-strapped folks in a recession, or because of demographic changes in the country. The answer is probably a bit of both. Photo Credit: Daquella manera
  • Pets

    We don’t want to objectify pets, but if you define a product as something you buy, then pets certainly fit the bill. According to the LA Times, the number of cats and dogs taken in as pets is expected to increase by almost 3% this year, to 169 million. And according to the numbers, the pet food industry is thriving, too, grossing more than $15 billion in the first half of this year, and we can only hope owners aren’t buying all this food for themselves. In fact, the entire pet industry is doing quite well, seeing a profit increase of 1.3% compared to 2008.Check out Mainstreet’s coverage of nutty pet businesses here. Photo Credit: wsilver
    Smart Phones
  • Smart Phones

    Cell phone sales declined 8.6% by the middle of this year, but sales of smartphones increased by nearly 13% in the first quarter.  It may seem an odd thing to splurge on in a recession, but apparently even cash-strapped people want to complain about (losing) their jobs in style. Blackberry saw an 84% year-over-year increase in sales in 2009 (possibly because of Obama’s continued endorsement of the product) Meanwhile, the iPhone almost single-handedly kept Apple’s business thriving this year. Photo Credit: judy breck
    Comfort Foods
  • Comfort Foods

    Chocolate sales at big producers like Cadbury and Hershey’s have increased significantly this year. Kraft products like mac ‘n cheese and pizza have seen similar increases. Cold Stone had a double digit increase in ice cream sales and let’s not forget about the 2009 cupcake boom! Read more MainStreet coverage of this phenomenon here. Photo Credit: heliosphan
    Romance Novels
  • Romance Novels

    Americans may be forced to cut down on other luxuries in this recession, but they continue to buy trashy novels in bulk. Romance novels currently account for half of all mass market paperback sales.  Harlequin, the publishing giant behind many romance novels, saw earnings increase by nearly a third in the fourth quarter of last year. And this year, more romance novels have been released by publishing houses and bought by consumers than last year. Photo Credit: rachelkramerbussel.com
    Pricey Yoga Stuff
  • Pricey Yoga Stuff

    Yoga helps with stress. We get it. But do you have to spend $100 on a yoga mat? Apparently, the answer is yes. According to Time magazine, Manduka, a company that sells pricey yoga mats saw its sales rise an incredible 55% in the first quarter of this year. Photo Credit: evanosherow
    Tanning Products
  • Tanning Products

    Consumers are buying more tanning products, according to USA Today. Because if you can’t afford to get away to a tropical island, you can at least make it look like you have.Photo Credit: Evil Erin
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