Monday, December 15, 2008

The Mallaise (a new word)

I haven't written anything about how the economy and stock market have thrown up all over themselves in the last six months because it is been covered so exhaustively that I had nothing to add.

Until now.

Gloria wanted to shop for her mom for Christmas, so on Saturday night, we went to the mall. I was dreading the shopping trip, really, since it was already so close to Christmas, and Austin is one of those "by everything that isn't nailed down" cities. Mall traffic this time of year is just absolutely insane.

We started at Nordstrom's, which was surprisingly empty. I asked one of the clerks, and she said "We're busy from noon to two in the afternoon, but the nights are dead. It's been really bad this year."

Gloria looked on the sale racks, but didn't find anything. "I just can't seem to get into shopping," she said.

"A mall-aise, perhaps?" I asked.

"Oh, that was terrible," she said.

I thought I might look for something for her while we were shopping, and I suggested that we could go and take a quick look in Talbots Woman.

"Don't," she said. "The name is in code. 'Woman' means 'big.' "

"What is it with you strange people and your secret language?" I asked.

Instead of Talbots Woman, we went to J. Jill. Sales clerks outnumbered customers by a 2-1 margin.

At Coldwater Creek, there were four clerks and two customers (us). Gloria found something to get for her Mom, and at the register, the clerk told her that everything in the store was 25% off.

Then we went to Gap Kids, and there was a sign saying that if you purchased $75 or more, it was all 30% off.

I've seen far busier Saturdays in June in this mall in other years.

So no matter what you're hearing about retail sales, my guess, at least anecdotally, is that the final numbers will be worse.

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