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November 23, 2003

RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: At the mall yesterday I noticed huge crowds (even though the Christmas shopping season doesn't officially start until next week). Judging by the numbers of bags and parcels people were carrying, they were buying, not just looking. I hope that's good news for this year's retail season.

In a related development, the landscaper at my sister-in-law's new house said that they're working their fingers to the bone with new home construction.

Anecdotage: make of it what you will.

UPDATE: Reader Jeff Strunk emails:

My wife and I had the same 'revelation' yesterday here in Erie, Pa. The traffic was unbelievable.

Let's hope this is reflective of the general situation.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mike Krause reports from the trenches:

I've had a kiosk (retail merchandise unit as the mall prefers they be called) since Sept.1 at a mall in Omaha (a really nice, newer mall out West, where the city is rapidly expanding into what was farmland only a few years ago). No employees, just me and my girlfriend.

The first three weeks of November it was like a tomb around here (in fact I could hear the echo as I laughed at myself for coming up with this idea). Our sales were actually down about 35% from the first three weeks of September, and October was a bust, we just paid the rent.

Saturday rocked. It was our best day so far. Santa showed up and opened shop and the mall was solidly packed, despite cold temperatures and drizzle, from 9:00 am (milk and cookies with Santa in the food court) until about 5:00 pm. Now it's Sunday afternoon and the foot traffic is strong despite the snow (or maybe because of it) but slow sales all around me.

The lady with the customized tree ornament kiosk (it's her fourth year here)says she is off about 50% from this time last year and the cell phone service and accessory guy (who is here year round) reports about the same.

I think it's fair to say that reports are "mixed," then.