High gas prices drive online sales: Online retail will rise 17 percent this year to $204 billion. Apparel ($26.6 billion),computers ($23.9 billion) and autos ($19.3 billion) will be the three largest sales categories, according to "The State of Retailing Online 2008" survey conducted by Forrester Research. Consumers take on frugal shopping habits: The InternationalCouncil of ShoppingCenters- UBS tally of 38 stores found that same-store sales rose 5.1 percent at discounters and 9 percent More consumers cultivate their green thumbs to combat rising prices: According to the 2007 "National Gardening Survey," retail sales of lawn and garden products to consumers totaled $35 billion last year--$1 billion more than in 2006.
SEIZE THE MOMENT
John Assaraf and Murray Smith, founders of OneCoach, a provider of small-business coaching services in San Diego, offer their top 10 business opportunities for a down economy:
1. Business coaching: There is a huge entrepreneurial surge coming; be there to help themsucceed.
2. Social networking for business: Connect with your prospects, taking up where ad agencies left off.
3. Alternative fuels: Everyone wants to cut energy costs.
4. Environmental services: The greening of America has just begun.
5. Health care: Everyone's getting older; more people need more care than ever.
6. Nail salons and beauty products: Fewer facelifts, more facials.
7. Discount retailers: Think Wal-Mart and 99 Cents Only Stores.
8. Luxury products:Yacht sales are up--Prada skirts, too.
9. IT and other technology services:Virtual meetings cost less than flying.
10. Credit and debtmanagement:With consumers watching their wallets, help them do it better.
"Companies that allow businesses to outsource, such as payroll companies and professional employer organizations, have been flourishing as companies seem to move toward getting their numbers of employees down and being flexible in hiring and firing temporary workers." -Jay Zweig, labor and employment lawyer and partner, Bryan Cave LLP
business ideas that work now
Stephanie Nelson, 45, founded a site that teaches others how to savemoney on groceries by using coupons. The Atlanta-based business is flourishing. In fact, CouponMom.com's traffic for July increased 416 percent over the samemonth last year; its overall revenue in 2008 hasdoubled this year; and, as of press time, July was the site's busiestmonth to date with just over 1million unique users.
THE MIND-SET To cater to today's consumers, you have to understand them. A recent study by The Zandl Group gives us a sneak peek into theminds of today's 21- to 39-year-old consumers:
DO-IT-YOURSELF CULTURE: Consumers are increasingly adopting a DIYmentality to save money
• cooking vs. eating out
• bringing their own lunches to work
• making coffee at home vs. going to Starbucks
• doing their own home repairs and renovations vs. hiring a professional
• creating their own entertainment at home
• opting for new underground entertainment venues in up-and-coming neighborhoods that are cheaper and more fun than established venues
ONLINE BARTER: Consumers are looking to the following sites for financial relief
• Craigslist to sell/buy/barter everything from furniture to electronics to haircuts
• eBay to sell/buy clothes, electronics
• PaperBackSwap.com to exchange books
• Couchsurfing.com for free accommodations
KEEPING IT LOCAL: Consumers are spending more time at home or closer to home Specifically, they are gravitating toward local bars and restaurants,which are oftenmore lowkey and laid-backwith less expensive drinks and food. Weekends away and expensive family vacations are being replaced with"Staycations" at local parks, lakes and beaches.