Libey sees signs of economic recovery

In his monthly economic outlook for the catalog/direct marketing industry, Philadelphia-based consultant/futurist/investment banker Don Libey reports that seven of the 12 U.S. regions are showing signs of economic improvement. These include the following, with some states overlapping into more than one region:

-region one: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont

-region three: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware

-region five: Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina

-region six: Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi

-region seven: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa

-region nine: Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Michigan

-region 12: California, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii

Libey reports that the remaining five regions covering the rest of the country are showing “slower to mixed” economic activity.

“When you distill all the economic data and trends and factor in the certainty that economic momentum doesn’t turn from ‘slow growth’ to ‘robust growth’ in a matter of weeks or months,” Libey’s report says, “it’s clear that the balance of 2002 is going to be ‘slow growth,’ but with early indications of positive change.”

Looking at overall retail trends, Libey says that price has become a “significant determinant” of consumption. “People who would never have been caught dead wearing clothing from Wal-Mart now do so and that trend isn’t going to reverse,” he says. But “this new price perception and quality dumb-down trend hasn’t been recognized yet by the catalog industry.”