The Vacuum Cleaner Economy


Wal-Mart (WMT) was one of Wall Street’s darlings last Thursday after retailers released their same store sales numbers for May.

Linda Hefner, executive vice president for the retailer’s home division, told The Wall Street Journal last Friday that “one of my biggest departments is floor care, vacuum cleaners for example.” Ms. Hefner explained: “We do see some really solid numbers that show people are staying at home more, and when they are at home, they are preparing food, and that means they have to sweep and vacuum their floor.”

I suppose that translates to when times were good, people were too busy going places and dining out. The home was viewed more as an ATM machine and repository for all that stuff bought from tapping home equity loans and property speculation. A kitchen you actually cook meals in – what a concept! Just because a lot of people watch HGTV, The Food Network, and Martha Stewart, and bought cookbooks didn’t mean people were actually making any of these dishes or doing any of these crafts and projects themselves.

It was back to the simple life when Saturn entered Virgo last September. Saturn in Virgo until July 2010 has escalated the cost of consumer staples and energy. Last summer’s collapse of the housing bubble and the credit markets closed the door on consumers ability to use real estate to subsidize their lifestyles. Since Virgo rules hygiene, cleaning the home more frequently and thoroughly not only looks better, but is healthier.

To put it in a way Wall Street can understand, Wal-Mart customers are using their economic stimulus checks to make an investment in keeping their floors clean. The vacuum cleaner is the symbolic representation of inflation sucking away all their money on gas, groceries, taxes, healthcare, etc. By making an investment in floor care, consumers prolong the life of their flooring. Feeling better now in their surroundings, consumers can be more content about not going to places such as malls or restaurants where they would engage in discretionary spending. The bottom line: companies are not the only ones who have implemented cost cutting plans.

Related Posts: “The Stimulus Will Not Raise Sales” and “Brunette Recession Indicator”

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