According to yesterday's New York Times, the Lipstick Index rose 40% in the last few months.
What is the Lipstick Index?
An indicator based on the theory that a consumer turns to less expensive indulgences, such as lipstick, when she (or he) feels less than confident about the future. Therefore, lipstick sales tend to increase during times of economic uncertainty or a recession.
This term was coined by Leonard Lauder (chairman of Estee Lauder), who consistently found that during tough economic times, his lipstick sales went up. Believe it or not, the indicator has been quite a reliable signal of consumer attitudes over the years. For example, in the months following the September 11 terrorist attacks, lipstick sales doubled.
I'm hoping the same holds true for paperbacks. Readers might not be able to afford a trip, or a night out at the movies, but will go for a book that costs under $10 (and that they can even sell at a used bookstore afterward), especially if it promises a happy ending.
Although maybe I should buy a few shares of Cover Girl, too....