If you have been reading the financial news lately, you may have noticed a lack of bullish sentiment. Whether it is the malaise generated by failures in the subprime mortgage market, the inverted yield curve, or trade deficits, it can be enough to make that spare mattress in the guest room look like an attractive place to hoard cash. But there may be a little light cutting through the recent gloom and doom -- literally. Extended Daylight Saving Time is upon us. [Saving Time, singular -- not Savings Time. It's an event, not an interest-bearing account.]
This year in most of the U.S. (excluding Arizona and Hawaii) the beginning of Daylight Saving Time was moved up a few weeks into March -- you knew this already, yes? -- and the end date was pushed back to the first Sunday of November. As detailed in Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, by Michael Downing, getting jiggy with the why, when, and where of time-keeping was an American obsession for the better part of the 20th century.
There have always been proponents and opponents of the change. The most common argument is that Daylight Saving Time is a great energy saver, but this has never been effectively demonstrated. Some short-term studies dating from the Nixon administration have shown that power usage may be modestly lowered, but utilities, like Motley Fool Income Investor selection Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), have not been opposed historically to the time change. It has also been argued that what we may save in electricity, we give back in gasoline consumption, since the extra hour of evening daylight enables more travel and recreation.
And where are we going while we're out later? Generally, shopping. The local chambers of commerce were always the biggest proponents of/lobbyists for Daylight Saving Time, and retailers have long relished extending its observation. Businesses focused on recreation such as golf courses and sporting goods retailers like Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation Cabela's (NYSE: CAB) or Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS) should also see substantial benefit from the extended evening daylight. Finally, candy makers have long lobbied for Daylight Saving Time to end in November, and for a very good reason -- Halloween. An extended trick-or-treating hour translates into more sales for Hershey (NYSE: HSY) and Wrigley (NYSE: WWY).
Not every industry enjoys the time shift. Farmers, often assumed to be in favor of Daylight Saving Time, have never cared for it. The movie industry would also like the sun to set a little earlier to help fill seats in those early evening showings. But overall, the economy tends to be bullish toward sunlight, and I concur with the sentiment.
Southern Co. and Wrigley are selections of Income Investor. Cabela's is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection.
Fool contributor Ralph Casale is by no means an economist. He does wonder -- if there were Daylight Savings Accounts, would someone build an ETF around them? He owns shares in Wrigley, but none of the other firms mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.