The tree at Easton
Yesterday Kish and I went Christmas shopping for a few things. It was a mistake. The roads to Easton, our nearby shopping megaplex, were jammed, and when we got there we could not find a parking place. As we drove through the Easton complex, we saw lots of shoppers, although not many seemed to be carrying multiple bags with their purchases. We eventually went to a store called World Market, where a fair amount of the goods seemed to be on sale but there were lines at the cash registers. As I waited for Kish to make her selections I saw a number of shoppers pick up items and consider them, but ultimately put them back on the shelves and move on. We also visited the nearby wine and liquor shop, which was doing land-office business. We contributed to their sales, I must admit.
I’m not sure what inferences can be drawn from this one-shot exposure to the Christmas shopping season in central Ohio, but based on that limited experience my guess is that people are out shopping but are being selective and cautious in their purchases and are largely resisting “impulse purchases.” I also think that buying wine, beer, and liquor for the holidays probably is pretty much immune to economic downturns.
I also think that businesses are pulling in their horns for this holiday season. At work, I seem to be getting fewer Christmas cards — even of the electronic variety — and there clearly are fewer holiday parties and business gifts being given. In the past, there were many business-related holiday parties to attend, and service vendors like court reporters and copying services typically gave bottles of wine, tins of holiday sweets and snacks, and holiday-themed presents to their valued customers. This year, no one seems to be doing so. That suggests to me that businesses are still being careful with their spending because of concerns about where the economy is heading.
From all of this, I suspect that the results of the Christmas shopping season will be decent, but no record — and perhaps not the consumer-driven boost to the economy that some observers are hoping for.