Friday, November 30, 2012

Markets in prepping

New York is asking for something like $50 Billion in aid, and last I checked New Jersey was around $30 Billion.  So there is an obvious market in disaster clean up.

Put there is another market, that the media is just starting to catch up with.  Disaster preparations by individuals.

Note, we are not just taking about people who think there will be a complete societal breakdown, the traditional bomb shelter survivalist if you will.  They obviously exist, but the market for what I would call mid-range preparations is even larger.  If society collapses, your natural gas fueled generator is only going to do you so much good.  But the folks at Generac, the best known of the residential-style standby generators, is one major component of the prepping market.  The natural gas may go off at the end of the world, but it is a lot more reliable than the electricity for the events in between.

Hurricane Sandy and the Disaster Preparedness Economy
Andrew Martin, New York Times, 10 November 2012 (hat tip: NC)

...The cold war may have been the start, when schoolchildren dove under desks and ordinary citizens dug bomb shelters out back. But economic fears, as well as worries about climate change and an unreliable electronic grid have all fed it.
Driven of late by freakish storms, this industry is growing fast, well beyond the fringe groups that first embraced it. And by some measures, it’s bigger than ever.
Businesses like Generac Power Systems, one of three companies in Wisconsin turning out generators, are just the start.
The market for gasoline cans, for example, was flat for years. No longer. "Demand for gas cans is phenomenal, to the point where we can’t keep up with demand," says Phil Monckton, vice president for sales and marketing at Scepter, a manufacturer based in Scarborough, Ontario. "There was inventory built up, but it is long gone."
But there’s little question that the market is in the multiple billions of dollars. The size of the generator market in the United States, including residential, commercial and industrial models, is roughly $3 billion...
Both Walmart and Costco now sell a year’s supply of food, much of it freeze-dried. Costco’s offering is 120 gallon-size cans of food for $1,499.99. Sears offers emergency/survival rations for dogs. And the National Geographic Channel has a reality series called "Doomsday Preppers," which "explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it."
David Lyle, the chief executive of the National Geographic Channel, said the program was a breakout hit in its first season. The second season will begin on Tuesday.
"You start by thinking, ‘Wow, these people are odd.’ Then there is this creeping realization: Who is crazy now?" says Mr. Lyle, who notes that other shows like "The Walking Dead" and "Revolution" deal with similar themes, like living off the grid (albeit with zombies). "How interesting that some of them believe that the oil supply will run out and that will result in civil unrest. And now with Sandy, you see people having brawls in gas lines."
 It's a relatively long article, and I trimmed a lot of it.  If you have time, I would take a look.

And while Sandy is fueling would I would call disaster preparation (short to mid-term correctives), as the last paragraph noted, that is not the only issue that people worry about.


JaneofVirginia said...

You point is very well taken. The implications of such is not all good.

russell1200 said...

Jane, my editing is the real disaster -ouch. Disaster prep (short to mid-term preps) can have some negatives both societally, and even individually. If anything because they tend to have an isolationist flavor to them, and people generally work best in groups.

But given that we are not a particularly cooperatively inclined society at the moment, the cynic in me says that if you can last 3 months in a complete collapse, you have probably lost well over half your competition.

John D. Wheeler said...

Heck, I figure if TSHTF when it is below freezing, 75% of the people will either freeze to death, set themselves on fire, or asphyxsiate themselves in the first few days. Whereas I can probably hold out until a tree fall on me ;-)

russell1200 said...

John: It sounds like you are well set up.

But NY and NJ are making progress as far as getting power back on. I think the issue will be getting people out or "temporary" shelter, and trying to get businesses rebuilt.

To my mind it seems more likely to play out as a slow collapse.