Cloudy With A Chance Of Empty Carts

13 09 2011

It’s amazing how fast the naysayers line up to start wringing their hands about the economy. Here it is only 13th September, and already I am reading reports about how dismal this coming holiday season is going to be, that shopping carts will be nearly empty. Like a scene straight out of Family Feud, “Survey says…holiday shoppers plan to spend less this year!”

Can we at least get to the autumnal equinox before we start worrying about such things? Or, better yet, veteran’s Day? Good grief, a lot can change in the next three months to put me (and you) in a better spending frame of mind.

And if, per chance, we actually believe such tripe, then maybe we will all make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. You know…”Geez, honey, it says here that people are going to spend less. I’m not exactly sure who all these people are, but maybe we’d better spend less, too.”

Yes, it is true that in our consumer-driven society a full 70% of the economy is derived from retail purchases. Furthermore, m,any retailers report 40% of the sales occur between the 1st of November and Christmas. I thus understand the importance of all this, that selling stuff is pretty much what fuels the American economic engine.

But is early September the time to be asking?

Heck, Americans with young children just received their credit card statements bearing all those obligatory back-to-school purchases. Little Johnny and Suzie are busy scuffing up those new shoes, filling page after page of spiral notebooks with juvenile sketches, and poking people’s eyes out with protractors. How in the world could people even begin to think about buying Christmas presents? It was 97 degrees yesterday, for crying out loud.

Which reminds me that, no matter how dark and gloomy the economic weather forecast is, you really don’t know if it’s going to rain until you get there. People have a way of finding the holiday spirit, even when times are tough. Even if money truly is tight, I cannot imagine people saying, “You know, we’re just going to have to cut some people off this Christmas. I even read about it online.”

It was about this time last year that I saw the same awful prognostications. And you know what? They did not pan out. If anything, December sales sagged because of bad weather around the country (Knock knock! Who’s there? It’s Old Man Winter. Surprised?). In spite of dire predictions, sales among 28 of the top retail chains were actually up over 3% for the entire holiday season.

So much for stormy weather.

Truth be known, most major retail chains made their Christmas inventory decisions several months ago. Their purchases are already in the pipeline, if not already delivered to warehouses. If ever retailers needed insider information, it was in June, not now. That’s kind of like coming to school in shorts, only to find out that snow is in the forecast.

But even then, it may not snow. The sun may still shine. In fact, it may turn out to be one of the warmest Christmases ever.

Just get your credit cards out and be ready to shop. The economy is counting on us.

Dr “What’s In Store” Gerlich




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