Monday, December 19, 2011

Walking In An Economic Wonderland

A Golden Prediction

In reviewing my 2011 predictions made last December (Economic Bowl Pick post December 27, 2011), I discovered the Model T had forecasted an S&P 500 Index high of 1400 for the year.  The index peaked at 1370.58 in late April. Therefore the forecast was off by less than 30 points and just 2.1%.  I hope somebody was paying attention and sold at the right time.  Next year’s predictions come in two weeks.

A Surprising Observation 

A little over a week ago I made my annual Christmas shopping trip to the mall.  I had heard all the negatives about the holiday shopping season.  Yes Black Friday sales were strong, but consumers had spent all their money and recent shopping activity had been slow.  Yes consumers say that will spend more this year, but they really won’t. Internet sales are much stronger this year, so traditional retail sales will suffer.

Therefore I was expecting the number of shoppers at the mall to resemble those of the last three recession-weakened years.  I venture to the mall about the same day and time each December so I do have a good baseline for comparison.

But this trip to the mall was not as I expected.  My first surprise happened in the parking lot.  I always park at the end of the mall (by Sears) to avoid the mall traffic maniacs and so I can park close to a door.  Due to the weak economy I could park about 10 cars from the door the last three years.  In a strong year I would park about 25 cars back.  This year I parked about 35 cars back.  Could there be that many more shoppers here? 

There were more positive signs before I even got inside the door.  I passed several people leaving the mall loaded down with shopping bags. There was a help wanted sign on the Sears door.  Once inside the mall there were customers six deep in two lines at the first check out station. I actually had to walk around people to get through.  And this was at Sears!  I didn’t think anyone was supposed to be shopping at Sears anymore!

In the mall the crowd was huge. I can’t remember ever seeing this many people on my shopping trip. And they were buying stuff.  They were buying clothes, they were buying shoes, and they were buying knick-knacks. They also must have been buying expensive perfume because in one area of the mall the air was so thick with the scent; it was literally difficult to breathe.   The food court was extremely busy also.

I managed to complete my purchases fairly easily although I had to wait at the calendar kiosk because they ran out of shopping bags.  You know business is good when you run out of bags.  While I waited for them to get more bags, I had the opportunity to see which calendars people were buying.  One popular calendar is called “Nuns Having Fun”.  This is not what you expect.  It is totally “G” rated.  The cover shows nuns having fun on an amusement park ride.  Another popular one is a daily calendar called “Oh No Obama”.  It boasts that it lists 366 (leap year) stupid things Obama and his administration has said or done.  No, I did not buy this one.  Why would I want to start every day next year by getting upset?  To me, it ceased being humorous a long time ago. 

I stopped at another store at a “mega” strip mall to buy my final gift.  The store was very crowded and there was another help wanted sign on the door.  There is a whole lot of consuming going on!

The True Meaning of this Economic Wonderland 

I know this is just one person on one shopping trip, but can things really be that bad?  This looks like a recovery, this smells like a recovery and I really can’t believe we are in or headed for a recession when there is this much positive economic activity. There are still some negative economic indicators out there, but for now I’ll believe what I can see and what I see may be a Christmas economic miracle.

How bad can the economy really be when people are forking over cash for greasy mall food, expensive cologne, and buying overpriced calendars featuring everything from scantily clad lingerie models to fully clothed nuns?  And unemployment may still be high, but apparently companies are having trouble finding enough retail workers this year.

So my holiday message to the people who shopped like crazy in the stores and on the Internet this year: I thank you, the economy thanks you and Ricky Bobby would say that the baby Jesus laying in the manger thanks you.  

My holiday message to the economic naysayers is this:  Quit whining about how bad you think the economy is.  It doesn’t help consumer confidence and there is a good chance you are wrong. So just shut the (insert your favorite expletive here) up Scroogeheads and go buy some Christmas gifts. Shame on you for upsetting the baby Jesus on his birthday.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my readers.

 One Final Gift

If you haven’t had time to give anything to those less fortunate, you can buy Christmas dinner for the homeless at the Refuge of Hope in Canton, Ohio for only $2 per meal.  Click here to donate.

No comments:

Post a Comment