Cupcakes are something I can believe in. And I’m not alone. I’ve recently read articles in various national magazines about the growing trend of “Cupcakeries.” It seems that they are becoming the new decadent dens of delight, for those seeking solace. In these recessionary times, people seem to be spending more in small increments, rather than going on a cruise to Cabo. Simple pleasures such as sugary baked-goods, luxury home products, and spa items that create “staycations” are on the rise. So is it possible that comfort-related products and businesses might be recession-proof ?
Looking at baked goods, for example: it’s a true phenomenon and there’s evidence that it’s just begun. “Sprinkles” Cupcake stores are expanding to over 10 retail locations by the end of this year. Originally just a Beverly Hills store, the company exploded after Oprah raved about it; and after it was mentioned in celebrity magazines as Suri Cruise’s favorite birthday item (her parents got them shipped across the country, when they were on a film shoot). Martha Stewart’s cupcake cookbook was on the New York Times’ best-seller list for months. There are multiple TV programs running on various cable networks called “Cupcake Wars,” “Cake Boss,” and even “DC Cupcakes.” It’s also a growing area in small businesses and blogs. Sunset Magazine recently focused on mobile gourmet food companies, such as high-end Cupcake and Ice Cream trucks (in addition to high-end “roach coaches”). It’s exploded in big business this year, too: “Cinnebon” is expanding their footprint internationally and has recently added cupcakes to their menu.
Even large retailers like “Williams-Sonoma” (which incidentally carries “Sprinkles Cupcake” mix) are doing surprisingly well in this economy. Other retailers focused on home decor and bed/bath items are also reporting increased sales with each consecutive quarter this year. For example, both “Pier One” and “Bed, Bath and Beyond” have reported positive consumer gains to Wall Street recently. This kind of growth is surprising, in ANY retail sector this year: so what can we attribute this to?
Some consumer experts have suggested the trend for consumers to spend more money and time at home, is related to the uncertainty of the economy. I think this is true. It’s also possible that many folks won’t be moving or taking vacations for a while; and need to make their daily lives and homes more tolerable. It could be that as our sustained economic dip continues, that our anxiety as a nation heightens, and comforts of any kind become more important. They’re not just discretionary products anymore—these items become ways to fulfill a desperate need.
So whether it be music, a sugary baked item, a bubble bath or a pillow that helps someone sleep more soundly~ it could be that these small objects of desire could end up turning our economy around. A combination of an inexpensive item+reminiscence of a simpler/more relaxing time (childhood for example)+ a return to small indulgences might be just the required recipe for these difficult times. After all, who wouldn’t be comforted by a cupcake?