LOS ANGELES — Drivers interested in gauging the current economy need look no further than the cars around them. If cars are dirty, budgets are tight; if cars are nice and clean, the economy is picking up, NBC Los Angeles reported.
The June 11 story quoted Christopher Thornberg, an economist and founding partner of Beacon Economics, who said, “It’s the little luxuries of life that go first. Oil changes are necessary. Carwashes are not.”
HWB Car Wash in Burbank was moving along fairly well until the recession hit five years ago. Owner Sander Romick said business is better now than it was during the deepest part of the recession, but it’s still 20 percent below the “good times.”
Now, customers who used to wash their cars weekly come in about every three weeks. Those that came in once or twice a month are now waiting five or six weeks between washes, according to Romick.
Carwash owners say they feel every bump in the economic road, especially when the price of gas goes up. “It’s absolutely correlated,” Jason Johnson of the Quick Quack chain of carwashes said in the story. “In the summer of 2008 when we had the big spike, when we went from $2.50 a gallon to $4 in a matter of a couple of months –everybody had record lows.”
The story noted that carwashing’s hopes lie in little upward ticks that show the economy slowly expanding. Some reasons for hope could be falling gas prices as well as recent increases in the sales of new automobiles.