You can always gauge the temperature of a place by its spending habits. The years after 9/11 saw a precipitous rise in sales of the Hummer, a car more suited to combat than the suburbs, and the perfect emblem of the fear pervading these United States at the time.
More recently, Donald Trump’s presidency has sparked new spending trends, all indicative of widespread cultural ideas—and mostly fears—of what his tenure in office will mean. And if we also vote with our dollars, these don’t appear to be ballots cast in confidence.
Here are seven products that have sold like hotcakes since Trump won the election.
1. Preparations for the apocalypse.
Trump is a walking, talking nuclear threat, whose insults to American allies and diplomatic recklessness have frightened people into preparing for the end times. For the disgustingly rich, that means investing in underground bunkers where they can wait out the radioactive fallout until it’s safe to come aboveground again. Norad Shelter Systems, based in Texas, has seen sales increase by eightfold since Trump’s election, according to NBC News. Clyde Scott, who runs bunker manufacturer Rising S Company, says after the election, “business went out the roof. I’d say 500 to 700 percent in one month.” (“We’ve had liberals coming out of the woodwork to protect themselves,” Scott told NBC.) The subterranean shelters run about $45,000 for a no-frills structure with minimal amenities and two years’ worth of food storage. A luxury unit, complete with pool, hot tub and 600 square feet of space will set you back around $8 million—though you can get far fancier if you’ve got the cash. Scott says Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are customers, and told Dazed Digital that while he didn’t build any of Trump’s own bomb shelters he “might be doing some add-ons for his one up in Colorado.”
On the less pricey end, emergency supply companies with names like Doomsday Prep and My Patriot Supply have also seen big sales jumps since Trump was elected. Among the many supplies they offer to the addled and afraid are freeze-dried foods, home canning equipment, water filtration systems, gas masks and generators. “Prepping used to be something a few people did—end-of-the-world doomsday types—and didn’t tell anybody,” Keith Bansemer, VP of My Patriot Supply told Business Insider. “That’s not who’s calling. I have more mothers trying to protect their families that you would think.”
2. Firearms—for black and LGBT folks.
Watching Trump incite his racist, homophobic base to violence, both during his campaign and in the months following his ascent to the White House, has left already vulnerable black and LGBT folks feeling particularly unsafe. While gun and ammunition sales have fallen precipitously since NRA darling Trump took office, there’s anecdotal evidence that African American and LGBT people are buying and learning to use guns in numbers greater than before. Members of LGBT shooting group the Pink Pistols (whose mission is to stop those “who hate and fear gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or polyamorous persons [from using] us as targets for their rage”) told the Washington Post that membership is up and new chapters are proliferating in the Trump era. Philip Smith, president of the National African American Gun Association, told the outlet his group has 7,000 new members since November 8. NBC News surveyed gun shop owners who reported “they’re seeing up to four times as many black and minority customers.” Black women, in particular, are arming themselves in numbers not previously seen. Marchelle Tigner, a former National Guard officer and NRA pistol instructor, runs Trigger Happy Firearm Instruction, which teaches African-American women how to shoot. She’s had to add classes to fill the increased demand. “With the political climate being as unstable as it is,” she told the Guardian, “black women can be the target.”
3. Long-term birth control.
Trump, along with the entire GOP, is committed to denying women access to family planning services and reproductive justice. (Both in the U.S. and abroad, because the Republicans believe #AllWomenShouldSuffer.) The party is also doing everything in its power to strip millions of health care, which often covers or subsidizes the cost of birth control. In response to the threat to their constitutionally protected reproductive rights, women are getting the one form of birth control the Trump regime can’t interfere with: intrauterine devices, or IUDs. Even before the election, IUDs were gaining steam as the preferred method of birth control for an increasing number of women. With Trump in office, the appeal of IUDs—which once inserted, can outlast even two terms of this presidency by 4 years—became even more apparent. The proof is in the numbers: between election day and early January, Planned Parenthood saw demand for IUDs increase a staggering 900 percent, according to president Cecile Richards.
4. Meditation and yoga.
There’s nothing like wellness practices to calm your frayed nerves when, for example, the new president of your country proves he is off his rocker for the 389th time. That likely explains why meditation and yoga seem to be attracting more people in the months following the election. Vox reports that one day after Trump became president-elect, popular meditation app Headspace “saw a 44 percent jump in SOS sessions”—or short meditations for those in emotional crisis mode. As of July, “there’s been a 31 percent bump in SOS sessions monthly compared to 2016” according to the outlet. Calm, another meditation app, has reportedly also seen its numbers rise post-Trump.
And though there are no stats yet available, USA Today spoke with yoga teachers around the country who say their classes have been fuller since the election and inauguration day.
5. Encrypted messaging apps.
Trump, describing the Russian hacking of DNC files, once said, “I wish I had that power. Man, that would be power.” Along with his hissy fit over Apple encryption and expressed desire to “close up” the internet, he has made it abundantly clear that his disdain for privacy could lead him to do something crazy, like colluding with a rival foreign power to commit cyberespionage. Or something. The U.S. surveillance state already being too expansive for comfort, millions were moved to encrypt their communications in the shadow of a Trump win. On the heels of the election, secure messaging app Signal saw a 400 percent increase in daily downloads. “There has never been a single event that has resulted in this kind of sustained, day-over-day increase,” Moxie Marlinspike, the pseudonym of a former Twitter cybersecurity head and Signal designer, told Buzzfeed. “Trump is about to be put in control of the most pervasive, largest, and least accountable surveillance infrastructure in the world. People are maybe a little bit uncomfortable with him.”
Around the country, numerous therapists reported a flood of new—and newly traumatized—patients after Trump’s win. But psychotherapy can be prohibitively expensive or difficult to arrange for the busy among us. Enter Talkspace, one of several online counseling services offering therapeutic services to users. According to a CNBC report, the company has “been growing 70 to 80 percent faster than projected since” the November 2016 election. The news site also notes that “on election day itself, the company had five to seven times more customers than usual, and it had three times the normal volume on January 20, Inauguration Day.” The increases were mostly among early-30-somethings, and “minority, LGBT, Muslim and Jewish customers.”
Most of Talkspace’s users, 75 percent, are self-described Democrats. “There’s been a lot of anxiety and stress, which may have been there before,” Oren Frank, the company co-founder, told CNBC. “But it’s definitely been triggered by Election Night and the Inauguration.”
7. Dystopian fiction.
Can’t afford even the most basic underground bunker? Prepare for the worst by reading classic books depicting how truly bad corrupt authoritarian fascism can be. That’s what millions of people did in the weeks after Trump won. Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here” and George Orwell’s “1984” all returned to the top levels of bestseller lists.
“It’s a frame of reference that people can reach for in response to government deception, propaganda, the misuse of language, and those are things that occur all the time,” Alex Woloch, who teaches English at Stanford University, told the New York Times. “There are certain things this administration is doing that has set off these alarm bells, and people are hungry for frames of reference to understand this new reality.”
By Kali Holloway, Alternet