Anecdotally, I'm starting to see rather a lot of evidence that suggests a recession or at least a serious slowdown is here and now.
At work I deal with lots of contractors, for which we are generally a small customer. All of a sudden none of them are busy. All these are doing some sort of physical work (as opposed to consultants etc).
Contractor 1. I phoned and the person who took the call openly admitted they had no work on. The started on our job the next day.
Contractor 2. Has been flat out historically and we've always had to wait weeks or months. They have now fully caught up with all our work and asked if we had anything else coming up.
Contractor 3 (self employed). Normally hard to get as it's specialised work. Was at home when I phoned and he offered to do the job 2 business days after the call.
Contractor 4. Again fairly hard to get and specialised. They're doing the work on the first day I suggested.
Contractor 5. They're doing a major job at the moment and staff on site are quite visibly going as slow as they can get away with. And we're now into the thrid foreman on this job in roughly 4 months. It turns out they have no work on once it's finished and staff have been leaving.
Buying a new vehicle (for business use). Was put straight through to the manager, not just a salesperson, who without asking offered to do anything possible to help with prompt delivery etc. It's just a ute so nothing special and we've never got service like that before. And they're the only dealer of that make in town so it's not like there's fierce competition.
Vehicle service. I've booked 3 in recently and in all cases was able to get it done straight away. Normally I'd expect a week or two wait.
And the one that prompted me to post this. I went shopping today. Normally I don't do supermarket shopping on Saturday to avoid the crowd and queues. Bottom line is that I walked past every shop in the shopping centre and couldn't find a single one that looked busy. The whole place was noticeably quiet compared to, say, 3 months ago on a Saturday. Even Coles had checkout staff waiting around with nothing to do.
And I'm starting to think that way myself too. Handing over some $ for lunch I looked at the price, thought about the fact that every time I go shopping something has gone up, and realised that I really can't justify paying for overpriced lunches anymore when I could easily cook the same thing at home far more cheaply. And so there's another customer gone from another small business.
Likewise the most spendthrift person I know has suddenly started over paying their mortgage. They've always spent everything they earn so they must have cut back on something. Add in rising food etc costs and that would presumably be a significant cut in their discretionary spending. Another store, pub or whatever that's lost a customer.
So overall, everywhere I look I see signs of a slowdown . Maybe it's just what I'm seeing and not really representative, but overall it doesn't look good to me at all. And it seems to be accelerating quite rapidly in the past couple of months.
I also note that talk of a "skills shortage" has abruptly ended in the media. Another sign.