Well, I’m finally getting ready to go back to work tomorrow, after the holiday break. It’s been a whirlwind of travel, family, friends, get-togethers, etc…including the inevitable after-Christmas shopping. I really am at the point now where I have too much stuff, and one of my goals in 2009 is to trim down, ala Bruce Sterling’s suggestions in The Last Viridian Note. However, as weird as it may seem, many people simply refuse I don’t need anything as an answer when asking for gift suggestions. Even donate to a charity in my name doesn’t work much either (we did have one of those, which was awesome and much appreciated!).

So my fallback is gift cards, especially for general stores like Target or (even better!) Amazon. Companies have worked hard to remove the stigma of just buying a gift certificate, and now I can get things that I know I want, when I want them. With places like Amazon and Target in the mix (vs. a game store, mall shop, or something like that), I can even buy general household purchases. I make MANY purchases via Amazon during the year, and I can choose to use these gift cards for such mundane (but again, appreciated) purchases as coffee! Big win.

So back to the sales. We still end up with some store gift cards, and the after-Christmas sales are kind of a tradition for us to try and get some good buys with them. This year, I tried to use the trips as a barometer of consumerism, in light of the recession, continued economic crisis, and general worry over employment, housing, and bills that is going around.

So…I have data, but I don’t know how to interpret it. *grin* The malls were completely crazy this weekend, and when I was out running on both Saturday and Sunday, the traffic was much busier on main thoroughfares (which lead into local shopping areas) than I normally see at these times of the day/week. It appeared people were buying, but most people didn’t seem to happy about it; almost chore-like. In addition, there isn’t much good info from the holiday sales numbers that I see, and the aggressive sales that businesses have been pushed into can result in deflation if prices are driven TOO low, and employment, salaries, future inventory, etc. have to be cut. I don’t know how the post-holiday store layoffs of seasonal employees is going to impact things, but it can’t be good.

So I guess it’s wait and see, but the local (and subjective) confidence numbers are something I want to trend for a bit. I’m calling it 5 out of 10 right now; we’ll see how it goes.

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