Rising motorcycle sales signal economic recovery


There’s an unusual and very loud economic indicator that says we are definitely in a recovery: Motorcycles!

I read in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that motorcycle manufacturers are booming right now. That’s a big changed from when we went into the Great Recession five years ago. At that time, motorcycle sales went down, down, down — one of the many indicators that signaled a cramp on discretionary spending.

Adding insult to injury, a lot of people who financed bikes during the recession ended up defaulting. That created a situation where new cycles had to compete for buyers against so many nearly new cycles that might have only had 1,000 miles or less on the odometer. But that surplus of used bikes has now been worked off and people are buying new in big numbers.

Sales of some motorcycle manufacturers are up by more than 25% over a year ago, while the industry as a whole is up 9%. (The effect of gas prices is only negligible on the booming sales, I think. It’s mostly a discretionary recreational choice.)

I consider this a great indicator that the economy is coming back. In the same vein, sit-down restaurants are seeing a big on average increase in sales from a year ago, up by nearly 10%. Both of these stats show that discretionary spending is something people feel more comfortable about after having cut back on when times were tough.

People feel more confident today, their wallets feel a little fatter, and they’re out there buying.

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