This morning's shopping forecast, however, is not great.
Nouriel Robini, professor of the Stern Business School at New York University and chair of Roubini Global Economics, writes a weekly column for Forbes. He had this rather grim assessment embedded in this week's column titled, "Will the World Go Shopping?"
A measure of weekly retail sales released by the International Council of Shopping Centers andWe shall know more tonight, of course. The ever-vigilant Washington Post reporters were out predawn this morning, scouring the malls to report that:
Goldman Sachsindicates that same-store sales flattened over the first three weeks of November, though compared to 2008, sales are up by a promising average pace of 2.9%. The National Retail Federation projects retail sales will fall 1% during this holiday season, compared to an average 3.4% annual gain in holiday sales over the past decade. After the sharp slide in 2008, a decline of "only" 1% or even a small positive gain in 2009 holiday sales may seem like a welcome number; however, accounting for the base effects of a dismal 2008 season, the underlying reality for retailers remains grim for this holiday season.
They came, they shopped and then, apparently, they went home to get some sleep.
The long lines of Black Friday shoppers that formed overnight at Washington-area malls, outlets and big-box stores had largely dissipated by daylight, with the savviest -- or craziest? -- bargain hunters temporarily sated, and most regular folks not quite ready to venture out.Later on in the same article:
A strong showing on Black Friday can help solidify a retailer's image as a shopping destination or merely a drive-by and is seen as crucial to building momentum to last through December. . . The marathon recession has made retailers' performance this holiday season even more significant.. . .Many economists believe that without robust spending by shoppers during the holiday season--kicked off by Black Friday--the country's nascent recovery will peter out.Remember our just-retired president, George W. Bush, exhorting us to go shopping after 9-11?
Oh dear me . . .
I don't know about you, but this day depresses me. As an old hippie (peace, love, and flower-chains for all!), I do hate to face the fact that out grand nation's economy is mostly powered by the acquisition of stuff. What does that say about us and our values?
I'm no economist and refuse to play one on this blog. Righting the world's fiscal ship is complex beyond measure, and I'm not going to spout any ill-informed suggestions for doing it. Besides, it's not the economics of shopping that bothers me, its the results of shopping. It's what the acquisition of yet more stuff does to our lives, our houses, our souls!
We're desperately aware of our need for a differently fueled automobile. Might we also--for the greater good of us all--need a differently-fueled economy?