Where are All the Shoppers?
My daughter was in town this weekend, home from college, and we took her shopping for all the various stuff college kids expect their parents to fork over for. It was pleasant and lowkey and we were, ah, rather alone in our purchases of winter clothes, laser printers, kitchen staples and the like. Then I went to Home Depot to buy a grate for the fireplace (that time of year) and I'd guess that the clerk to customer ratio was around two clerks to a customer.
Mind you, this was not recreational shopping. This was all Man on a Mission type errands. But it is November. It should take a few minutes for the credit card to clear, because the system is taxed to capacity by transaction volumes. That was not a problem on this, the first weekend in November.
Combine this kind of annecdotal experience with the hard numbers that are beginning to come in, and a pattern emerges. Between the retail numbers being reported (which in a sense are annecdotal, as they relate to specific chains, or whatever) and the macro statistics that are beginning to come out, and the Capitulation of the American Consumer can safely be called.