No. 7 The Lipstick Index

Makeup is a cheap thrill for penny-pinched shoppers. When the economy is weak, most consumers cut back on nonessentials and instead spend their money on the little luxuries--for example, lipstick. That's exactly what happened during the 2001 recession, when lipstick sales soared even as the overall economy declined. These days, the so-called lipstick index (a term coined a decade ago by Estée Lauder chairman emeritus Leonard Lauder) seems to indicate more tough times to come. Lipstick sales are up 14% this year. And nail polish, which more recently has become a bellwether of economic turbulence, has risen an even more disturbing...

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