Scout Intelligence Briefs: “How Bad Is It?”

I’m guessing it’s pretty bad…(via Swampland)

While the Republicans in the Senate continued to bluster as Rome burned, House Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi tabled this startling chart, based on Bureau of Labor stats, which shows how bad job losses have been by comparing it to the two most recent recessions (’90-’91 and 2001). I’m not sure what constitutes a plummet, but that’s certainly a free fall.

Here at home, 129,000 Canadians lost their jobs last month. 35,000 were lost in BC, the worst one month dive in 30 years.

The 2009 Celebration of Light fireworks (and knife fight invitational) gets canceled. But really, unless you’re from the suburbs or love the co-mingling smells of cordite, piss and vomit, this is a good thing, right?

Even the strip clubs are hurting. As the Vancouver Courier’s Michael Kissinger puts it: “Few sights are as sad and lonely as a half-empty strip club. A kitten run over by a car or seeing your dad cry, perhaps–but a woman taking her clothes off in front of an audience of more unoccupied chairs than patrons carries a special kind of pathos.” PS. I love you Michael Kissinger.

The booze trade is doing just fine:

Although fourth-quarter data won’t be available until April, a Statistics Canada snapshot of unadjusted sales by large retailers’ liquor stores — including those operated by Canada Safeway, Loblaw Companies and Costco Wholesale — shows booze buying was up 17 per cent in October 2008 over October 2007. Historical data from the agency reveals a similar alcoholic beverage spike during the 1982 recession, when national year-over-year sales climbed 16 per cent compared to an average increase of nine per cent in the five years prior and seven per cent in the five years following.

Not all see it that way. A second opinion.

And for those in the restaurant trade, things are not so hot. British celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson is in deep shit, and London restaurants slashing prices. In Manhattan, where prix fixes are popping like corks and marketing gimmicks are sprouting like weeds, the number of mentionable restaurants closed last month was 46 (even the high end reservationists are picking up the phone). In the posh restaurants of Mumbai, sales at are down 20-30%. California is sucking too, while in Ireland we get a plea to diners from Dublin restaurateur Jay Bourke:

“If you go to the cinema for a night a out,” he says, “your money goes to Hollywood, and then there’s the Coca-Cola and the popcorn. And the cinema itself probably belongs to Richard Branson, so your spend essentially goes to multinationals. Eat in your local restaurant and your money stays in the local economy. With a bit of luck, you’ll have more fun and you’ll spend the evening talking and communicating rather than looking at a screen in respectful silence. Yes, there is something patriotic about eating out.”

In Toronto, they’re really feeling it:

Already, there have been casualties. The most noted was Yorkville restaurant Boba, which saw sales all but dry up after the stock market crashed in September, forcing the owners to close the doors just three months later. Boba’s closing, despite its more modest menu, raised alarm bells through the industry: The thinning of the ranks is far from over, and it’s time to give regulars even more attention.

“The elaborate eight-, nine-, 10-course tasting menus, and the lack of restraint in ordering wines, all of that’s going to change,” Mr. Korte said.

“There will be a return to trust, some sense of simplicity. People may just want to go out for a roast chicken on Sunday night and not have to spend that much money, trust that it’s going to be nicely prepared, but it’s not going to be over the top.”

In uncertain times, diners scaling back on their cheques will also pull back on the number of restaurants they frequent weekly.

“A lot of our guests who know our restaurants are also saying that they really don’t want any volatility in their dining experience. So they’re visiting restaurants that are tried, tested and true,” said Jerrett Young, operations manager for Oliver and Bonacini Restaurants.

Keenly aware that change was coming, chef Mark McEwan, the man behind Bymark, North 44 and One, returned to his roots of simple, classical food.

Chefs across the city, he said, will dig down even deeper to bring patrons to their tables. “I’ve been through three of these cycles since I’ve been an owner,” he said.

“It feels like a long ride when you’re in the middle of it. But you do emerge from it. And you usually come out of it smarter and tougher on how you operate your business.”

But McDonald’s was up over 5% last quarter. We have that going for us, right?

There are 2 comments

  1. Actually, I’ve been amazed at the number of fast food ads on tv right now. It’s like a blitz of bad food at great prices ($2 for a burger, fries and coke).
    I wonder what the correlation of recession and heart disease is! Fatter wallets equal fatter people? It’s even worse on the american networks.

    I like Jay Bourke’s quote.