Survival, Inc.: The Mayan apocalypse is great for business

Leave it to the Mayans to boost our economy.

Ahead of the predicted Mayan Apocalypse tomorrow, many survival shops, restaurants, hotels and other businesses are raking in the profits. Even though December 21 is nothing more than the end of the Mayan calendar and the start of a new one, companies are capitalizing on the disaster craze.

Ready To Go Survival says there has been a major uptick in sales in their survival packs, which include a gas mask, duct tape, matches, ammonia inhalants, water purification tablets and ready-to-eat meals in prices ranging from about $210 up to $700.

Online retailer reports a 7.8 percent increase in sales of survival gear over the past year. Hot-selling items include generators, first aid kits, lanterns, camping blankets and hydration kits.

The survival site reports a 400 percent increase in sales of their pandemic survival kit. The company sold hundreds of Smoke Escape Hoods and about 140 emergency preparedness backpacks, mostly to customers in Southern California, in the past week.

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Hotels are cashing in as well. The Waverton near Chicago says they will “be celebrating like there is no tomorrow” and is offering a deal on December 21 to stay an extra night (e.g., after the world ends) for 50 percent off the normal rate. The Curtis Hotel in Denver is offering a deal called “Party Like There’s No To-Maya” where you can rent an entire floor of the hotel for $12,021 -- suggesting that money is no option.

'I have an issue with people who prey on the fears of others in order to make a buck.'

— Lisa Bedford, author of Survival Mom

One of the most unusual discounts: T.G.I. Friday’s, the mostly aptly named restaurant for any doomsday event, is offering Mayan Margaritas at a discount and is opening up their dance floors and photo booths to those over 21 for free. (In fairness, proceeds from the event go to the Feeding America charity.)

Even a museum is catching the wave (hopefully not literally). The Maya 2012: Lord of Time exhibit at the Penn Museum at the University of Pennsylvania will run through January 13 or, as a spokesperson told, until the world ends. The exhibit “compares predictions of a world-transforming apocalypse with their supposed origins in the ancient Maya civilization,” according to the museum.

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Of course, not every survival expert is keyed into the Mayan legend. Joel Forge from survival shop Forge Solutions told his customers have not even heard about the Mayan Apocalypse. A recent boost in sales is due to an interest in survival gear, he said.

Lisa Bedford, author of Survival Mom, told that the doomsday lore is mostly hype. She says there’s no reason a business can’t promote their wares, but some take it too far.

“I do have an issue with people who prey on the fears of others in order to make a buck. You see this often in the survival and prepper communities, especially with high-pressure sales on so-called survival food,” she told “People who have seriously prepared for this will feel burned and foolish just like many of the Y2K'ers did and decide that preparedness is only for crazy people. My choice is to inform and encourage, not feed the fear in hopes of making a book sale.”

The discounts and deals might not last, but there is a real demand for the products, they say. While some “survival” companies do play on our fears, others are just trying to sell a real product.