More evidence of recession
The latest Auckland telephone books have just been delivered. The Yellow pages for 2010 have 1764 pages. 2009 had 2117 pages, and 2008 had 2429 pages.
Are they trying to save trees? No. Is the typeface smaller? No. Are internet listings becoming better value than print listings? No - I doubt it.
It is probably the most tangible evidence of the recession that the public will receive. 665 pages of ads have been lopped off in three editions - that's a 27% slump in two years. As a measure of the decline in general business activity - in confidence and in ad spend - it is quite significant. You can immediately see the substantial difference when you line the three sets of phone books up with one other.
The alarming thing (and not just for the equity group that bought the yellow pages off Telecom a few years back) is the rate of decline. The Auckland phone books cut off in November/December of the previous year and are distributed in March/April in the publication year: so the 13% decline from 2008-2009 reflected the state of play at the time of the election when things were melting down fast, uncertainty was reaching a peak and credit had already begun evaporating in the months leading up to November 2008. What is troubling is the further 17% decline from 2009-2010. What accounts for that? It can't all be greed on the part of the Yellow Pages outfit and businesses refusing to advertise on that basis. It's a sign the recession has taken a toll on business - certainly Auckland business - and that we are some way off a recovery.