Recession-Proof Shopping

Not everything's going bust in this economy. From Spam to contraceptives, check out products that are doing well in hard times.

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When Americans cut their spending elsewhere, they feel more entitled to small indulgences. What else fits the bill better than chocolate? The British Cadbury company's annual profits were up 30 percent in 2008. Hershey's chocolate increased earnings by more than 50 percent in the first quarter of 2009.
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Sugar, sugar, sugar. Not only is chocolate sales up, general candy sales are rising as Americans seek to comfort themselves during the difficult economic times.
So long, sexy. Granny panties are back in the pink as a value pack of six can cost the same as a single thong.
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Raise a glass to better days. Happy? Sad? Celebrating? Lamenting? Economic downturn aside, alcohol sales are up 17 percent.
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Keeping par with the list of sinful things up in the recession, cigarette sales are hot, hot, hot.
General book sales are down, but the recession has heated up romance novel sales. Harlequin, still the biggest name in serial romances, saw a $3 million gain in North American sales in the fourth quarter of 2008. Want to read "Valentino's Love-Child" by Lucy Monroe? Yours for only $3.80. Cheap and escapist.
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Can anyone say value-meal? McDonald's reported a 7.1 percent increase in same store sales for January as people look towards cheaper food alternatives in the weakening economy. But not all fast food is doing well; sales at the pricier chains like Arby's dropped.
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Another food your waistline won't thank you for but your wallet will: Spam. Because the price of food is rising at the fastest rate since 1990, the often-maligned classic canned lunch meat made by Hormel Foods is flying off the shelves. In some countries, it's a delicacy.
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Looking to cut even more at the supermarket? Frozen foods are also recession-proof. Pot pie sales are up over 20 percent and side dishes are up almost 50 percent.
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People are getting connected... to their gaming consoles. Home entertainment has become important for people who can't afford to go out. Video game sales are up over 30 percent.
Condom sales are on the rise: 6 percent over January of last year. (Insert drooping economy joke here.) Jimmy hats can allow for hours (or minutes) of personal entertainment with a decreased chance of unwanted disease and pregnancy.
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Trojan won't do the trick? Nip it in the bud. Many men are getting vasectomies while they still have the insurance to cover it... And saving that floundering retirement account for their own golden years and not a child's. The recession has sparked an anti-baby boom.
Public schools may start seeing a boost as parents reconsider the large tab of a private education. Private schools saw a 7 percent dropout rate by the middle of the school year.
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Starbucks has taken a beaten because people who can't afford food are less likely to splurge on a $4 latte. Sales for at-home coffee brews are on the rise. Revenue at Vermont's Green Mountain Coffee Roasters climbed 56 percent in the fourth quarter last year. Coffee makers and accessories are also up 5 percent from last year.
Most people during a recession fear job loss, but not resume writers. One poll by the National Resume Writers Association found that 54 percent of respondents had seen an increase in clients as economic conditions worsened.
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With rising food and gas prices cutting into personal budgets, home gardens are regaining popularity lost in recent decades. Veggie seed sales have reportedly risen by as much as 60 percent since last spring in parts of the U.S. and U.K. A National Gardening Association poll shows that the number of households planning to grow their own food in 2009 has increased by 19 percent from 2008.
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Despite the rocky economy, people still love going to the movies. This year's box office sales are tracking 16.5 percent higher than the year before, with attendance up nearly 15 percent.
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If you can't afford a movie on the big screen, a certain DVD delivery service isn't going out of business any time soon. (Note: not a stock tip.) The number of subscribers to Netflix climbed 26 percent in the fourth quarter from the same time last year.
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