5 Suprising Recession-Proof Industries

What do you think of when you hear “2009 recession?” If frozen credit, failed automakers, and dying newspapers come to mind, you’re on the mark.

But how about books, beef, and concierge doctors? Or iPhones and candy? Surprisingly enough, these products and services reflect the Great Recession just as much as the bailout bill.

Below, we’ve listed five industries that are bucking economic trends. Unlike gambling and alcohol, the markets for most of these products aren’t predictably recession-proof. In fact, some, like beef, theoretically shouldn’t be thriving. But they are, and we’ll tell you why.

Concierge Healthcare


Imagine having 24/7 access to your doctor, who only sees a limited number of patients in order to provide each person with quality care. You can easily land a same-day appointment or even a house call. In exchange, you pay $1,500 to $25,000/year for services, according to the New York Times.

An estimated 5,000 concierge physicians practice in the United States. Surprisingly few patients have dropped out from their concierge services, even as their personal income flags. A close, personal relationship with your doctor is a need that doesn’t go away with the recession.



The print media may be dying, but the market for books is alive and well. Book sales have dropped only slightly in the United States, and are up on the European continent, according to this New York Times article. Books’ status as a “cheap treat” makes them downturn-friendly. (Note: For various reasons, this doesn’t mean that book publishers are thriving, too.)

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Americans continue to devour meat, but only if we buy it ourselves. Overall national meat consumption is down, mainly due to lower restaurant sales, writes Reuters. But beef, chicken, and pork supermarket sales are “holding up well,” say meat industry leaders cited in the article.

Q4 2008 saw 3% more beef, 9% more chicken, and 5% more pork being sold in supermarkets. Why the high demand? Because prices are low. The beef industry in particular is trying to make up for restaurant sales losses by lowering retail prices. Bon appetit!

Mobile Telecommunications


While sales in some sectors in the mobile industry soften–network infrastructure and chipsets, for example–other sectors, like mobile devices, continue to boost industry growth, according to industry publication TMCnet. The net result is a robust industry. The $700 billion industry will also fuel its growth by expanding both in developed and developing nations.



When the economy recesses, people self-soothe. And what easier way to do that than through candy? This year’s National Confectioners Association Expo revealed a recession-resilient industry, writes TGR’s Renee Covino. Top trends in the industry include nostalgic packaging and “All-American chocolate ‘comfort classics.'” It seems that when we indulge in candy, we indulge in the past, too.

  • It’s not all that surprising actually. The demand for these products and services will never depreciate unless humans become amorphous, unthinking, unfeeling beings. Being healthy is a given, but I don’t think the whole world will turn into vegans. Technology’s not going anywhere. Books will probably go nearly completely digital in the future.

    Interesting post.

  • kadigan

    House-call doctors? Please!!!, that’s for the economically unaffected, Anyway.

    The emotional demand for these items may not subside. However, the market’s themselves may not be productive in a recession given the interconnected nature of resources, production, and transportation. what about the unpredictable stocks and commodity markets that finance them? Is the advice that we should be investing in companies in these industries? Should we feel secure then, that publishers/booksellers, telecommunications and candy companies are experiencing growth and therefore better off during recession? No – their just not All receding as much as in other industries. more Likely the cheaper meat, discounted books, free cel phone plans and the 2for1 candy on sale as producers and merchants scramble with offers to make any sale they can. Higher quality offerings are sure to be threatened. “Low Cost” is what is recession proof.

  • Nice post. Not sure I would want to leave my current business and start up a candy or telco business, but an interesting examination of the psychology of how we justify what we spend – regardless of the economy