Not everyone is a loser in today's struggling economy

Losers might outnumber winners in this struggling economy, but Dan Parra is one of those coming out ahead.

Parra operates a Fort Worth repair shop called Ray’s Transmission. As the stock market slumps and more layoffs are announced daily, his business has soared about 40 percent in recent weeks because some motorists are finding it better to spend $2,400 to $2,600 to fix their car’s automatic transmission than to shell out for a new vehicle.

"I am doing about 13 cars a day now, up from nine," said Parra, 49.

Not all auto-repair shops are seeing such an upturn, according to an informal spot check at four area mechanics, confounding popular belief that people will spend more to maintain their vehicles in bad times. One shop specializing in Japanese cars, Hond-Auto, said it’s doing more engine work but otherwise little change is evident.

Still, the economy is identifying some clear winners — and losers.

In the winning column are discounters like Wal-Mart and 99-cent stores, McDonald’s and supermarkets, bankruptcy lawyers and resale merchants, they said.

"I see the Wal-Marts and the Targets of the world more successful, more affordable. With economic outlook bleak for the next six months, people are going to be cautious," said Robert Cuomo, dean of Merrimack College’s Girard School of Business in North Andover, Mass. "The losers are going to be the high-end rollers — like Macy’s, Saks, Abercrombie & Fitch."

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