Recession Indicators: Jobless Hikers Crowding the Appalachian Trail, Japanese Shopping at Wal-Mart

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When you lose your job, why not take a hike? When your economy tanks, why not embrace the deals at Wal-Mart?

Here are a couple of economic indicators to inform you about our current hard-time world. In other words, recession porn.

The WSJ says that the current crop of hikers heading from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail is significantly bigger than in previous years. Usually about 1,000 hikers leave Georgia in the spring hoping to bag the entire trail in one season. This year, nearly 1,400 hikers started the trek early on, and hundreds more followed.

A nice long walk seems like the perfect reaction to the recession. You certainly have time to clear your head. You get in shape. You feel quasi-productive, which is sometimes not the case after staring at a computer for seven hours trying to find jobs that don’t exist. And hey, life on the trail is cheap. Most hikers’ expenses average about $1 a mile, and farmers and inns along the way hire folks who are willing to pitch in with chores.

Meanwhile, the NYT reports that the Japanese, who forever seem to be at the cutting edge of cool luxury, are embracing frugal chic. Among other things, they’re turning away from designer goods to shop at Wal-Mart and other discount retailers, and they’re buying cheaper groceries and beer.