Saturday, June 13, 2009

Beginning of Summer

It's not a date on the calendar or a change in the weather, it's when the local schools are out for Summer break, and it started for us on Thursday. Although I think US school kids don't stay in school long enough, their early release is always a big boost for the store. Then again, I wonder if we had more intellectually advanced children (they score fairly low internationally), they would be more interested in hobby games that don't include "Madden sticks." It's not just the kids though, we've had a lot of grandparents and parents in over the last couple of days trying to figure out how to entertain their young ones. It was refreshing to be re-introduced to the general public again. They've stayed away for so long.

It's important for me, at least, to try to stay upbeat about "things," aka the economy. We've hit a noticeable critical mass of unemployment at the store, where a high percentage of our known customers are looking for work. Still, quite a few lately have come in to say they've found a job. As for the macro economy, the larger picture (the stuff that all economists failed on with this recession), unemployment is supposed to be a trailing indicator, meaning it will correct itself after the economy begins turning around. That doesn't do you any good if you're without a job, however. I think the hardest thing about this recession is all its unknowns. There are so many factors that it's hard to grasp, and psychology is a huge part of our consumer driven economy.

It's hard to stay upbeat when most of what I'm reading in the press about the economy are blatant lies and distortions. My theory is that the government and press are working together to boost consumer confidence in hopes of getting the public to spend their way out of the recession. The problem is the major shift in wealth. There will be no easy way out when so much middle class wealth has been vaporized. That's the macro picture again. As for us? Sales were up slightly in May. Hobbyists, myself included, will continue to spend money on their hobby as long as they're employed. It's the creation of new hobbyists that concerns me most, but that's a longer term concern. Summer is finally here and it should help retail stores at least catch up a bit from a slow Spring.

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