The Economy in Brief(s)

Good times mean new underwear for men


To understand where the economy's headed, you may just need to take a little look at the state your husband's underwear.

Economists say men's underwear can be a good indicator of the country's financial situation. Even former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan is a fan of using men's underwear sales as an important economic indicator.

Sales are usually stable because people need underwear, according to the theory, but during really tough times, men will wait longer to buy new underwear or buy less-expensive pairs.

Sales of men's underwear have fallen more than 2 percent in the past year, according to the consumer research group Mintel.
"Well, people are not out as much, and since they're not out as much, there would be a correlation there of people cutting back," said San Diego State marketing professor George Belch.

"To me, it seems men just don't think to buy that kind of stuff, so if the economy's bad, yeah, they're not going to go out and buy unmentionables, I don't think," shopper Jeanne Dockery said, laughing.

Mintel predicts sales will fall by half of 1 percent next year, continuing the trend, but it would be a slowdown in the decline, which could mean better economic days are ahead.

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