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What St. Louisans' recent Google searches say about the economy

"(These searches) are telling us that consumers are growing more and more comfortable with resuming their more typical daily lives"
Credit: SLBJ
Local interest in car buying and vacations are both up, according to Google Trends.

ST. LOUIS — These days, it’s not hard to find depressing news about the economy. But St. Louisans are optimistic — at least, based on their Google searches.

Metro area searches for phrases like “new car,” “vacation” and “homes for sale” are up significantly since hitting lows in March and April.

“(These searches) are telling us that consumers are growing more and more comfortable with resuming their more typical daily lives,” said Argent Capital Management analyst and trader Ward Brown in a video to clients. He said one reason the economy and stock market are diverging is because the stock market factors in people’s expectations for a quick recovery. Brown uses Google Trends to gauge some of those expectations.

“Markets often hinge on tidings of better or worse, rather than the raw numbers,” Brown said. “Google has a lot of interesting data.”

Nationally, searches have increased for terms such as “new car,” “homes for sale,” “vacations” and even “knee replacements,” he said. “Ford F-150” searches are up too, which Brown said is a barometer for trends in construction activity.

For the week of June 14-20, St. Louis-area searches for "Ford F-150" were at a 12-month high. Interest in the search term is up more than 500% since a 12-month low the week of April 26 - May 2.

Local searches for new and used cars have also increased, likely because dealerships across the nation are trying to lure customers back with special deals.

St. Louisans are also looking into home buying. Interest in “homes for sale” hit a 12-month high this week, and related searches such as “buy home” and “real estate agent” are also up. (So are searches for “sell my home.”) With national home sales down significantly in April and home prices expected to fall, people appear to be hunting for good deals. 

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