The Rose Parade As Economic Indicator?

Job numbers, equipment orders and capital expenditures, even sales of recreational vehicles, are seen as economic indicators. Here’s another: the Tournament of Roses parade on Saturday, New Year’s Day, in Pasadena, Calif.

And what’s the verdict? Up.

More companies are participating in the 122-year-old spectacle, sponsored this year by Honda , than did during the recession, so naturally that’s a good sign. The parade, in which companies pay to have floats made of flowers built for the it, precedes the Rose Bowl. This year the football game is between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs.

“Honda has increased their presence in this parade,” said Larry Palmer, a spokesman for the float-building company Phoenix Decorating. “They are feeling confident.”

Companies shell out between $100,000 and $450,000 for floats, said Palmer, which is a lot cheaper than buying a Superbowl ad, which runs $2.8 million for a 30-second spot, plus the cost of creating it. Viewers in 127 countries see the parade compared with 106 million who watched the Superbowl this year.

“It’s very efficient in terms of a straight ad buy,” said Dole Foods vice president of marketing and communications, Marty Ordman. “Plus, you really to get your message out on what you want to say about your company and your products.”

What also has risen this year is the cost of materials for floats. Among those are flowers imported from around the world and the so-called hard materials ... glue, for example.

“I buy over 1,000 gallons of glue for the Rose Parade,” said Tim Estes, president of the firm Fiesta Parade Floats. “I buy five different glues, and we’re seeing about a 20, 22 percent increase.”

So, what's the next economic indicator? Make that glue.