Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Sure Sign of an Economic Slowdown

Most mornings I catch the 8.02 from Tonbridge Station. Six months ago I had to get the 7.52 and six months before that it was the 7.42. The reason? Because if I had arrived at the station any later than that the car park would have been full. Nowadays, the car park rarely fills until mid morning. Today at 8am there were more than 80 free spaces.

This surely has to be a sign of economic slowdown. Fewer and fewer people are making the daily commute into London and I can think of no other reason than that.

What signs are you seeing of an economic slowdown?

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

My wife works in an IVF clinic and about 3 months ago the number of new patients fell off a cliff.

GB£.com said...

What signs are you seeing of a economic slowdown?

Less tory references about the need for 'green' taxes!

Blackacre said...

The District line from Turnham Green seems to be fuller than ever - not sure what that says.

david kendrick said...

The best 2/3 restaurants in the area is my test for an economic slow-down. Easy to get a table? Are they busy?

Raedwald said...

Woke up the other morning to see an African couple asleep in the churchyard opposite my study. First time I've seen this in 15 years.

judith said...

Another estate agent has closed in our High Street, and the vacant shops are remaining empty.

John Backhouse said...

If we're feeling indulgent, we can drive our daughter the 8 miles from where we live to the centre of Loughborough to school, stopping only for lights, not queues.
On the other hand, when she gets the bus home, they are ALWAYS full and two or three often drive past, completely full.
This was totally different before the summer holidays.
Perhaps more a sign of cost reduction that job losses, thank God, but there's fear and starved budgets all round for sure.

Patrick said...

The most directly 'real' parts of the economy are, unfortunately, often the 'black economy' parts.

For absolute evidence of how the pound in the pocket is playing out I'd check the price of hookers, pirate DVDs, drugs, hourly rates for 'cash with no questions about VAT asked' plumbers, etc. If these are cheaper than they were a few weeks ago then we're in recession.

No doubt Iain's readership have no experience of anything of this sort though.

Political Junkie said...

Surely it could also be a sign of greater car sharing.

Or just petrol prices (rather than wider economic problems),

Or a mass drive in your neck of the woods to shun the car for the bike.

Point is without asking people, how on earth would you know.

Anonymous said...

Blackacre, I frequently need to let one or two go through at Stamford Brook. You would not treat livestock like that.

However, look at the boulevard of broken dreams - the High St east of Chiswick Lane.

Anonymous said...

What are you suggesting Iain? There's been a wave of unemployment in Kent, or these people are maybe finding other forms of transport? Because if it's the latter, surely that's a good thing. Every recession cloud has a silver lining.

The Head Hitter said...

My father (quite a gifted economist) reckons that his local market town in Norfolk is a bell-weather: if the small shops on the High Street start to fold, recession is on the way. If they get refurbished/change hands then things are on the up. Kind of a canary-in-the-mine-shaft. I'll ask him about it and get back to you...

Anonymous said...

I see people buying less candy in the store. There's a recession on the way and we're all doomed!

The Empty Suit said...

We've gone from being unable to get a slot with a good tradesman to them ringing up, touting for work. I've also seen schoolgirls leafletting our street for their dad's plumbing business.

If even the plumbers are short of work then there really is a problem.

Guthrum said...

Local shops that have been in our local high Street for nearly one hundred years, calling time.

Colleagues who are engineers, quantity surveyors etc etc moving abroad or looking for jobs abroad

HMRC harassing local companies making threats

Blackacre said...

anonymous 8.49, the High Street east of Chiswick Lane has hardly been thriving even in the good times!

Anonymous said...

Also, many people due to higher transport costs, are realising, that leaving your home, travelling 30 miles and then sitting down in front of a computer, thats exactly like the one you've left behind at home is a silly thing to do!

The government, (any government) must speed up the spread, (regardless of cost) of the fibre optic network, once thats in place, its impact on our way of work will be as great as the invention of the railways.

Cath said...

The trains in from Surrey seem to be as crowded as ever and some of them (the Reading - Waterloo line) seem to be getting busier. I know many people from round here drive into West London to get on the tube to avoid the horrendous parking and ticket charges, it may be that it isn't worth the hassle now since the petrol price spike.

Houdini said...

Last night I went into the Cheshire Oaks Toshiba outlet, not the cheapest shop.

I was looking at an all singing and all dancing, latest model DVD/Video/HDD time slip digital machine at 239 quid, and the latest 100hz 40" picture frame TV for 1199 quid. I said I'd give him a grand for the two on a debit card, expecting to be told to get stuffed.

I walked out with both five minutes later.

Bad Bunny said...

I struggled to get a bicycle parking space at Bristol Temple Meads at 6.30am this morning, and my colleague coming through an hour and half later couldn't get one at all.

I work in the media and a lot of people I know are being laid off, but paradoxically there's a lot more freelance work around as companies prefer hiring on a short-term basis rather than giving out full-time contracts.

Meanwhile, my brother in law – a builder – has no work at all.

Half The Story said...

My local builder (SE9) is booked with work till April, and has work orders coming through after that too.

He is well priced and does great work.

My local station car park is always full, perhaps a little later than before, but perhaps before ar egetting off their fat arses and saving £20 a week on a luxury not a neccesity?

Plenty of folk are getting made redundant, heard the other day that office space provider Workspace laid off over a dozen folk.

Anonymous said...

1.79 million unemployed and you can be sure the real figure is in excess of 2 million

Anonymous said...

Jewellerey shop windows bursting with Breitlings....as the Lehman crew can only afford Rolexes now....

Anonymous said...

HALF TERM

londonerr said...

I know there's a slowdown when I see and hear evidence of government saying they must 'do something' to help us and I see evidence of more intervention in the economy.

It's simple for me: less tax and fewer barriers to doing business. On both counts NuLab have scored very highly in the wrong direction.

Old Holborn said...

The BBC are showing maps of dissenters and those who dare criticize ZNL.

See if your neighbour is angry with Gordon

http://bastardoldholborn.blogspot.com/2008/10/they-know-where-you-live.html

Anonymous said...

A sure sign of recession is when the NAO says that rail overcrowding is to get worse, despite improvements made to the service since more state control.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7668816.stm

Can it be any clearer than that? etc

Anonymous said...

@blackacre - it says that the Piccadilly Line should stop there instead of Barons Court. No-one uses Barons Court and millions use Turnham Green.

DiscoveredJoys said...

The Houses for Sale supplement in our local paper varies in number of pages depending on the season, as you would expect... but it is now thinner than usual for this time of year. Some of the smaller estate agencies now only put adverts in every other week or so instead of every week. I've even seen a half page advert of text only entries (previously unheard of).

I've also thought that the number of visible tower cranes is a good indicator - but in advance. They seem to proliferate about a year to eighteen months before a down turn. In my town they filled the skyline for new town centre apartments and a huge new shopping centre extension. All gone now.

wirral man said...

Our local computer shop closed 2 weeks ago and now has opened up as a funeral directors ,is this a pointer that the depression is going to get even worse.

Anonymous said...

Just came out of Asda. Packed.

Your train story - some may be car sharing, some may have switched to the Bus. Some may have left London and gone back North....Shhhhhhh dont tell Policy Exchange

Anonymous said...

It could be that you have been rumbled by your fellow travellers and they have turned to alternative forms of transport??? ;-))

Colin said...

What signs are you seeing of a economic slowdown?

More likely the signs of some of the schools being on half term break...

Anonymous said...

"Plenty of folk are getting made redundant, heard the other day that office space provider Workspace laid off over a dozen folk."

Companies like Workspace, which funded their growth exclusively by debt and loading their tenant rents accordingly(a ratio of 3:1 increase of new to old not uncommon), will be the first to feel the squeeze and probably experience demise sooner rather than later.

A classic example of a business model that assumes the good times of borrowing money and purchasing property at greatly over valued prices will never end.

Anonymous said...

For about twelve months now I've been noticing all the estate agents 'for sale' boards going up and staying up.

Anonymous said...

Popped round to see a friend in one of the (few) nice bits of central Brighton the other day (3 mins walk from the staion, ideal for commuters).

A descent sized terrace house on their street had just come on the market for asking price of £495k, last year they were selling for £695K - a £200k fall in 12 months!

I asked if it needed renovating? - "no, its just been done up"

Anonymous said...

Similar picture from rural Gloucestershire.

Came in on the 8.15 from Kemble last Friday - far more empty seats than usual.

Last Wednesday we had Princess Anne + detective in first class!

nought.point.zero said...

Does the car park cost money to park in? If so, then it could be that people are still commuting, they just don't want to pay for the car park.

As for recession, the only thing I can think of is that my uncle got made redundant from Merill Lynch and many people I know are paranoid about losing their jobs. That's about it at the moment.

Philipa said...

Friends trying to sell their houses are getting no interest yet the properties are highly desireable and in good order. They also cannot get a mortgage yet three weeks ago they were offered one on a more expensive property.

Other friends who have moved back home have decided not to sell their house abroad and to rent here.

Quite apart from the pensions crisis and stocks and shares slump, a man on R4 this morning was quite correct that shareholders in Bradford and Bingley were well aware of the damgers when they bought shares in the company. What they weren't aware of was a hostile takeover of a still solvent company by the government who nationalised the company.

Arkangel said...

It's very noticeable in this area of Lincs. that drivers are slowing up. Whereas before they were hoofing along at 60 plus, they've now slowed to 50ish.

Lots of houses for sale which are not shifting despite having come down large amounts of dough

Anonymous said...

09:31 | 15/10/2008
Gordon Brown, Prime Minister
EU Summit press conference

Mr Brown applauded the EU for coming “together to take common action” and said that he would do everything he could to help people facing unemployment.

“Today is an important moment for the European Union – I hope we will find agreement also from the whole of Europe. We must work together for common purposes.

COMMON PURPOSE.

wake up people!

Darrell G said...

Well this is slighlty off the wall but...i was in an area of Leeds the other day and it was offereing a low price on it's 'credit crunch burger'.....maybe not a sign of slowdown but a sure sign that it has permeated the popular counsciousness..

Anonymous said...

Philipa, why do your friends need to move? Can't they just wait it out? They'll probably find most buyers are waiting for the bottom after spending years being fucked over by middle class fuckwits with their grubby hands half way up the ladder clutching a "highly desirable property". What does that even mean? Fancy slate flooring? Because for me a highly desirable property is one I can afford to live in which is why I'm not going to be to be paying to keep your mates' smuggness topped up.

roman said...

It's a bit early for half-term!

judith said...

Well that's told Philippa's friends, because obviously Mr Anonymous knows that they don't have to move because of job changes, or family up/down sizing, or to look after ailing parents.

Oh no, it's all due to 'middle class smugness'. I am so bloody sick of this kind of mindless class garbage.

If the middle classes didn't work hard and pay their damn taxes, Mr Brown and his nasty little cronies wouldn't have been able to run pointless wars and buy votes with welfare payouts, and p**s money down the NHS black holes, etc, etc, etc.

Arkangel said...

@Judith....well said!!

adnum100 said...

Once every couple of months I meet my brother for drinks on the top floor of London’s OXO tower. I like the view and it’s very convenient for us both. Certainly not the cheapest place for a drink on the Southbank, but a nice way to catch up. Usually we try and arrive by 5.30pm on a Friday in the hope of getting some standing space. Last Friday it was half empty. Even when we left at 7.30pm it was by no means packed. It struck me at the time as being unusual – but perhaps it’s the to be the norm.

And perhaps another sign: there are less of those annoying Foxton’s minis hurtling up and down our road. A silver lining if ever there was one.

Anonymous said...

Arkangel said...
"It's very noticeable in this area of Lincs. that drivers are slowing up. Whereas before they were hoofing along at 60 plus, they've now slowed to 50ish."

That's good and about time too. I know Lincs well and the police are forever complaining about speed merchants being the cause of the high accident rates. Hopefully, there'll be less accidents reported in the future.

Cath said...

@ anon 11.27

How dare you insult people who you know nothing about - that sort of generalisation is just as ridiculous as "chav" insults at the poor.

Looks like the entire English potato crop on your shoulder

BOF2BS said...

Busier car park @ LIDL!

Anonymous said...

You're so right. Mrs Ernesto and I have been putting only one peasant on the fire these last few weeks...

Anonymous said...

Like shooting monkfish cheeks in a polished hardwood barrel.

Dr Blue said...

In my surgery the number of medical reports for life insurance/ permanent health insurance/ critical illness cover has dried to a trickle.

3 years ago was 1-2 per week. Now less than one per month.


Also intelligent, competent, readily employable patients coming to see me with stress/job instability/job loss scenarios.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"You're so right. Mrs Ernesto and I have been putting only one peasant on the fire these last few weeks..."

Hard times indeed. Never mind, though. If the tories do get to take over the government we'll soon get back to nothing but recession for the peasants. Then you'll have plenty more to use.

Chris Paul said...

There is a danger Iain that as a result of this display of your economic acuity you will be discovered as the next Galbraith and pressed into service saving the world economy.

Anonymous said...

Local dog grooming parlour is thinking about packing it up as the number of people taking their pets for a wash and groom has substantially dropped.

When cash is tight you don't spend on on 'treats' for your pets!

andy c said...

How about academics at the University of Chicago fighting over naming a research facility after Milton Friedman?

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601110&sid=aFfgJGcp_3nY

Free markets = dead to me.

Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

House next to ours has been on the market now for four months, and has been marketed by at least three different agents. Surprising really as we live a in a really sought after area and last year properties were sold in days...

Richard Dale said...

We're carrying a lot more passengers at work (air taxi), as rich people have less money and go for the cheap option. Freight market is very weak, companies don't care if production ceases, as they can't sell all their capacity anyway.

Cath

The word "chav" has nothing to do with poverty. Not all chavs are poor, and most people with little money are not chavs.

John Moss said...

I am driving more slowly!

mitch said...

more expensive cars outside Netto/Aldi.

Richard Gadsden said...

Lawyers getting laid off - nearly a thousand nationwide.

Old Bar Man said...

More people on my Bus from Derby to Nottingham. This time last year I could have a double seat all to myself. Now there is no chance.

archduke said...

bad bunny said: "I work in the media and a lot of people I know are being laid off, but paradoxically there's a lot more freelance work around as companies prefer hiring on a short-term basis rather than giving out full-time contracts."
October 15, 2008 9:24 AM

i'm seeing that same thing here - i'm an I.T. contractor, and i have been inundated with work. mostly short term contracts.

not seeing much on the permanent side of things.

i'm glad, in retrospect to have moved to contracting this year.

Johnny Norfolk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johnny Norfolk said...

Last Friday we drove from Norfolk to Chatham via the M25 & the Dartford crossing. For the first time ever we were not held up at all at any point. The return on Saturday was the same. Its just unheard of. There were far less HGVs.

Anonymous said...

Iain lives in broker land. A few less brokers/hedgefunders have got jobs in the City. Gosh that's sad. I can hardly stifle a tear.