By , on Economic Outlook.

In 2008, businesses and consumers saw some hard times with our economy in recession, and it’s no surprise that the start of 2009 is not looking up for small business owners. Many businesses, large and small, faced and are facing severe sales losses, bankruptcy and even foreclosure on their business properties. Pretty much every paper you pick up has a new grim tale about our economic struggles. If you look hard enough, though, there are some encouraging successes buried in the mire.

Some markets are actually growing in this economy.

Do-it-Yourself Product sales are on the rise. With consumers pinching pennies, many people are fixing cars, cutting hair, and cleaning their homes themselves. Usually outsourced tasks are being done at home.
Organic, Sustainable, Green Products are still in demand. “Green” went big in 2008 and in 2009, people are still willing to pay a little extra to make sure items they purchase are eco-friendly.
Subaru America is the one car company in 2008 that actually saw sales growth in 2008. Their line of cars is small and simple. They released a redesign of their Forester compact SUV which proved to be something consumers wanted: a convenient SUV, a little smaller and with good gas mileage.
Consignment Shops are doing very well right now. Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army all saw a significant jump in sales in 2008. With the bad economy, customers are willing to shop for used, cheaper items. Used clothes are also more popular because of people’s desire to go green and waste less. To make a little extra cash, people are selling their clothes as opposed to donating and getting their shopping fix in cheaper stores.
“Value” Groceries saw significant sales growth in 2008. Spam, Ramen Noodles, dry pasta, bulk rice, margarine, canned vegetables and frozen vegetables were all purchased more. Although some predict the restaurant industry to see growth in 2009, people are still eating in more and trying to stretch that dollar while grocery shopping.
Digital Music and Concert Tickets are still in demand. While CD sales have continued to slow, digital music download sales in 2008 and concert ticket sales rose. Even in hard times, people still want good entertainment.
Game Stop Corp., a video game seller, reported a big jump in sales in 2008. Game Stop is the only video game seller amongst its competitors to offer discounted, used video games for sale. Customers can also trade in their old video games for credit towards new purchases. These used games sales and trade-ins made them very popular with the growing amounts of frugal consumers.
The Video Gaming Industry as a whole did very well last year, also. While not all video game sellers were flourishing, consumers still had a desire for the escape of the gaming world. Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox consoles, console accessories, and video game sales were up from 2007.
Google’s Paid Clicks, a measurement of how often people click their ads, increased 18% in 2008 from 2007. Search advertising is still doing very well and is a great tool for large and small businesses.
With pennies being pinched in so many ways, to help your business survive this slowdown, it is good to find product lines that people really need right now. People want to spend less, but they still want to spend. It just takes some smart thinking to appeal to them. Coupons and “great deals” are things that thrifty consumers are definitely looking for and using right now, so make them a good offer and follow up. You’ve got to change with this economy and get creative to weather this storm.

About the Author
Valerie Lynn Brett is a freelance writer and part time acting student with the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.