Milk, Smokes and Beer Are Shutdown Casualties

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The federal shutdown has undeniably damaged the local economy in Washington, D.C., as well as regions where national parks are the lifeblood for local businesses. But—even as the ordeal appears to be winding down—it may have affected sales in all sorts of industries around the country, sometimes in weird and surprising ways. Here are a few:

According to survey data released earlier this week by Kelley Blue Book, 18% of would-be car buyers are waiting for the federal shutdown to end before purchasing a new vehicle. As USA Today noted, the data comes from respondents at KBB’s website, so it’s not random or necessarily representative of the sentiment of all American consumers.

Nonetheless, Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said the numbers are significant. “The on-going government shutdown poses risk to the on-going recovery in new-vehicle sales,” Gutierrez said in a statement. Meanwhile, John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai’s U.S. sales unit, estimated that new-vehicle sales in October could be down by 10% due to decreased confidence in the economy thanks to the shutdown, Bloomberg News reported.

By some account, slower loan processing and general unease with gridlock in Washington and the state of the economy have caused some home buyers to think twice about purchasing real estate while the shutdown continues. Some realtors say the market has gotten particularly sluggish of late, and they’re doling out some of the blame to our nation’s stubborn politicians.

(MORE: States: No Thanks, We’ll Keep National Parks Closed)

“The first thing that hit the market was the rising interest rates, but now with the uncertainty of the government shutdown, that’s putting a second layer of insecurity, and people are holding back now,” one real estate agent told ABC News.

Craft Beer
Liquor stores and bars still have plenty of craft beer to sell to the thirsty (and picky) masses. But as an Associated Press report pointed out, because of the shutdown, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau can’t process applications for new breweries, nor for new beers that craft brewers are trying to introduce. For some entrepreneurs trying to launch new breweries, the shutdown could cost them thousands. Existing brewers may incur costs due to the inability to roll out new and seasonal brews. “We have a lot of pieces in play, so when things go sideways, that’s a problem,” a spokesman for New Belgium Brewery explained to the Coloradoan. “Beers that haven’t been approved don’t get to market.”

Before the shutdown caused the furlough of 45% of Food and Drug Administration employees, it was expected that the agency was going to pass regulations outlawing TV advertisements for e-cigarettes. For the time being, however, commercials for e-cigarettes are still being shown on TV, which is good for e-cigarette sales—and bad for those trying to limit exposure for tobacco products. “Everyone is frustrated,” said Danny McGoldrick, VP-research at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, according to AdAge. “If the shutdown delays the decision, then shame on Congress for one more thing.”

(MORE: Next Item on the Agenda to Freak Out About: Milk Prices Could Double)

The failure of Congress to quickly resolve its issues has also resulted in no action being taken regarding the October 1 expiration of the most recent farm bill. Without an agreement coming soon, milk prices could double, and prices for grains and other farm products could soar as well.

A series of discussions at Etsy, the online marketplace for homemade arts and crafts, explores whether or not the shutdown is harming the site’s vendors. For the most part, people participating in the forums say their sales haven’t been directly affected, though some sellers indicated interest has seemed slow of late.

Others have been wondering about the possibility that the shutdown could actually boost sales of crafts purchased online. “Wouldn’t you have more views since government employees would all suddenly have more internet time?” reads one comment.

Halloween Costumes
While Halloween spending is expected to decline this year, most analysis seems to blame general uncertainty in the economy, as well as dramatically increased Halloween purchases in prior years, for the slowdown. That hasn’t stopped some from speculating that the shutdown will dampen Halloween spending this year.

(MORE: Foroohar: Washington Dysfunction Is Hurting GDP Growth)

In fact, the shutdown seems to have brought about an increase in certain Halloween purchases. Per CNBC, stores are reporting a surge in consumers who want to be truly scary this by dressing up as … politicians. One e-retailer specializing in Halloween goods said sales of political masks and political costume have jumped 140% and 43%, respectively, since the shutdown began at the start of the month.