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Old 10-27-2008, 12:17 PM   #21
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Here in South Texas everything seems to go on as before. The mall, the Penney's store, Ross's Dress for Less and Burlington Coat Factory were packed when I took my sister (who is visiting here from a smaller town) shopping this past Saturday.
We went out to eat twice and had to wait for tables.
When driving through Houston last week the freeways were full with single drivers so no car pooling yet there.
I heard that new home starts were down here but have not really seen a lot of for sale signs in the neighborhoods that I frequent.
We are not cutting back as our income from pensions, dividends and bonds has not been reduced. Our long term stock portfolio is in the toilet but I believe we will recover long before we need that money.
All in all, I think a lot of this is media driven hoopla. I know there are areas where the situation is worse than here as my brother does business in Ohio weekly and he says it is bad there but has been for a long time.
My DH, BIL, and dad were all sitting around this weekend speculating on how bad it might get but not one of them could come up with a specific instance of such dire happenings or where they had personal knowledge of someone losing their job, house, savings or future. It is all just worries so far but that does affect lifestyle eventually.
We shall see....
2fer
(the eternal optimist according to DH)
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Old 10-27-2008, 12:19 PM   #22
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In CA a couple weeks ago (Sacramento/Walnut Creek/Santa Cruz) - the areas were depressing! As mentioned before, noticeably more For Sale/Lease, etc signs than NJ or Hampton Roads, VA. I am having a blast saving like mad and buying some things on my list of wants since prices are lower, and stores are not as crowded!!! Next year or so, a new-to-me car will be added to the list!
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Old 10-27-2008, 12:24 PM   #23
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McAllen TX has a brand new mega-shopping center with several new chain restaurants. PF Changs has been absolutely packed the last couple of times we ate there, as well as their neighbors. They seem to have several new big electronics business warehouses in the "Trade Zone" near the Pharr international bridge. In other words - things sure are hopping around here!

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Old 10-27-2008, 12:28 PM   #24
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Sales are down, but I STILL can't get anyone at Home Depot to help me..........on to Lowes.........
Lately when I'm in HD I get tired with all the "can I help you" inquiry's. It never used to be that way, just started in the last month or so. Must be a store by store or general area thing.
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Old 10-27-2008, 12:33 PM   #25
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I've noticed this many times over the years. Whether the economy is in recession or boom times, I see no difference in the number of people in the stores or cars in the parking lots.
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Old 10-27-2008, 12:35 PM   #26
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No real evidence of reduced consumer activity in the Chicago suburbs. Stores busy. Restaurants busy. Just casual observation of course.

I don't think we're going to see real "attitude adjustments" regarding consumerism until this thing has played out a few more months and until after the Obama administration begins and folks see that that doesn't result in an instant fix.

I expect holiday spending to be down slightly ref last year, not down dramatically.
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Old 10-27-2008, 12:42 PM   #27
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I can't really tell a difference at the places I shop and eat in general. Walmart, where I shop 95% of the time, is still packed as usual with long waits to check out.

Restaurants - Macaroni Grill was rather empty on a recent visit. But it was a weeknight which typically has poor results regardless. This is probably the most expensive restaurant we frequent on a recurring basis. The cheaper places like fast food, mexican, etc. seem to be the same. One mexican restaurant that is mostly filled with latino migrants in general was rather empty recently - that probably reflects slowdowns in the construction biz that disproportionately affects these folks. But it is hard to notice a general trend when I don't go to the same restaurants at the same times, and things like "the big game" being on at the time I eat (or it not being on) may be the causal factor, and not the broad economy.

I'll start worrying when I can find a parking space within 500' of the front door at walmart or the check out lines take less than 10 minutes!
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:02 PM   #28
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Just back from Las Vegas, and it didnt look like spending was down. Casinos, restaurants, shows were all packed, but cab drivers said business is down. Western suburbs of Chicago seem to spending - movie theatres packed at $10 per ticket, restaurants, stores also busy.
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:09 PM   #29
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here in the middle of Nowhere NY, it's hard to tell cuz we are a historically depressed area to begin with. the local casino continues to pack 'em in, and new hotels are being built nearby. local house builds continue.
i'm not a frequent shopper, so no data on that. we are still pulling way back on discretionary spending with winter heating costs looming. but i did make dh2b's day by sending him a sears tool chest sale e-notice. it was a deal we couldn't pass up. an early xmas present...
East Nowhere, NY
A very good idea to ask where we are reporting from...
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:13 PM   #30
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I've definitely seen a difference lately:

* Fewer people in all the big box stores; immediate "help" from sales clerks
* No problem getting seated at most restaurants
* County government cutting the budget (trust me, this is new)
* Several large layoffs in area plants
* Several developers with new startups have gone bankrupt or ceased operation
* Builders cutting way back on new home startups; limiting mostly to contract homes
* Burglaries up 25-50% over last year (the actual % is just a perception)
* My DD, waitressing where she's in college, is seeing fewer customers & less in tips
* Local body shop owner told me business is down, people driving with fenders bent

Of course, there are exceptions too: last week I decided reluctantly to sell 4 tickets to GA-FL football game due to some health problems with two of the four of us planning to go. I put them up on Craigslist. I sold them in less than 10 minutes, and my telephone rang almost constantly for the next two hours. I guess people will still spend money on the things they really want.
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:22 PM   #31
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I don't see a slowdown in the Dunkin donuts line when getting my morning coffee. Local restaurants seem pretty busy too, as do local malls. Maybe people are just browsing and not buying?
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:22 PM   #32
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Hi new here. Not sure that I am FI but will be REed in 4 days.
Anyhow live outside of Philly, wife is a pretty good real estate agent new constructon/resales. Has not sold a thing all year.
Son has landscape business, he also does a lot of paver patios, business is a lot
more difficult this year, quite hard to land the big jobs. I shudder to think about
next year for his business, I told him hoard cash now. Hopefully there will be lots
of snow work, that is if commercial business can afford to pay for removal.
He has seen the good times between 2000 and now where 30-50K jobs were
all over the place,not sure he understands what could happen.
Hopefully things will not get as bad as I think they might.
Old Mike
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Old 10-27-2008, 04:30 PM   #33
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We have noticed fewer customers at some big box stores, and that those who are there don't seem to be buying much.

It is difficult to tell at the smaller shops.

There may be slightly fewer at local restaurants. We haven't had to wait for a seat, lately. Saturday night we were the only customers at our favorite Cajun/Italian restaurant at 7 PM, but it was a little early and the owner said he thought it would fill up as soon as the LSU game was over.
The LSU game was over at halftime.

Georgia Bulldog Fan
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Old 10-27-2008, 04:31 PM   #34
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I don't see any slowdown at local restaurants for lunch, etc, but a couple of weekends ago )Saturday afternoon), I was on the way to the mall I have been only once... anyway, I got lost and stopped at a huge car dealership and it was totally empty, with no customers whatsover...

tmm
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Old 10-27-2008, 05:08 PM   #35
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I am near Chicago and while business is obviously slower at many places, it's not universal. I would imagine car dealers and realtors have really been hurt. I know first hand that (as you can imagine) boat and RV dealers are hanging on by a thread and many have failed already. One of my customers is one of the largest boat builders in the US, they have now closed 12 of their 29 plants. For smaller retail, popular places aren't doing badly, but some others are clearly wanting...

My Dad just bought a new Honda Accord (central Texas), must be nice to be a retiree with health care and a COLA'd pension. He got the best deal of his long life, everyone there kissed his ___ in every way they could, and he said 4 of the salesmen were playing cards in the showroom (that sounds like hopelessness to me).
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Old 10-27-2008, 05:47 PM   #36
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In CA a couple weeks ago (Sacramento/Walnut Creek/Santa Cruz) - the areas were depressing! As mentioned before, noticeably more For Sale/Lease, etc signs than NJ or Hampton Roads, VA. I am having a blast saving like mad and buying some things on my list of wants since prices are lower, and stores are not as crowded!!! Next year or so, a new-to-me car will be added to the list!
OMGosh, I used to live in Walnut Creek - absolutely adore the shops and restaurants....now, I'm a cattle rancher in the wilds of Oklahoma....oddly enough, when my WC friends visit the ranch, they hate to go home....and vow to live as I do, someday.....h'mmm

Love, love, love Oklahoma...but I do get pangs....Nordies, Tiffanys, Coach, Restoration Hdwe., Pottery Barn, Peets coffee, Brighton, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's.....Yikes!
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Old 10-27-2008, 07:56 PM   #37
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To add perspective, where are you? I imagine that the hard hit areas of CA, NV and FL would be the worst.

Just South of Salt Lake.

Utah is usually behind the economic times, so maybe we are still waiting for the worst.
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Old 10-27-2008, 08:23 PM   #38
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OMGosh, I used to live in Walnut Creek - absolutely adore the shops and restaurants....now, I'm a cattle rancher in the wilds of Oklahoma....oddly enough, when my WC friends visit the ranch, they hate to go home....and vow to live as I do, someday.....h'mmm

Love, love, love Oklahoma...but I do get pangs....Nordies, Tiffanys, Coach, Restoration Hdwe., Pottery Barn, Peets coffee, Brighton, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's.....Yikes!
This is an interesting post. How did you turn from an urban cowboy to a real one?
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Old 10-27-2008, 08:59 PM   #39
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I personally have increased my spending dramatically in response to getting killed on my equities. I have also increased my charitable giving.

I imagine that some of this is psychological to cheer me up with the market tanking and having lost my companion cat a few months ago, but I am not wasting the money.

I have been improving things in my house that had been put off - fixed the stove hood; just bought a new stove tonight; adding insulation to the attic; bought a couple sofa tables (one for the foyer and one for the living room window); got the chimney cleaned so I can burn wood that I have on hand and save on oil; getting a chimney cap that I should have had long ago and having the mortar fixed on the chimney; getting a mouth guard to protect against grinding my teeth while I sleep :-)

I have been going to Home Depot and it seems hopping. I heard on the radio tonight the Home Depot had a good earnings report.

On the other hand I have cut back on eating out.

For some reason it seems like spending a few thousand does not matter since it is so small compared to the other losses.

I have seen several stores going out of business in my area though - furniture and jewelry stores.

I also have been buying some ETF's and index funds from week to week. It seems every couple of weeks I buy about 1% of equities. I guess you could call it rebalancing when out of whack by 5% or more.

My only worry is that the few thousand I spend on things might have been better used to keep my cash up so I can buy more equities later on.

Even with all this spending I still have a couple years expenses in cash and my job seems to be holding up - at least for the moment.

It is like someone said (maybe Tom Friedman): "This current financial crisis will just be a small blip on the radar screen compared to the climate crisis and extinction event that we are headed for in a few years."

On the other hand - I just remembered that when I bought the stove at a regional chain store I may have been the only customer in the store or close to it.
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Old 10-27-2008, 09:17 PM   #40
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I go walking a lot, and vary my location. The week before last I went to a furniture store, because I was interested in buying some furniture, and would have like to browse the living room furniture. You have to go up these stairs to the 2nd floor and the sales people all sit on the sofas talking amongst themselves. I almost made it when I heard, "uh, uh, uh, there's one." Then, of course, they said they would let me look, but I was stalked from 20 feet behind, so I skidaddled out of there without looking at anything but the office furniture. The parking lot was completely empty and the store is huge. Don't know if it is the economy though or the stalking staff. I hadn't been there in a year because of the same treatment previously - course I guess you could say...I'm not a buyer, anyway.

The restaurants I walked past last night all had full parking lots, and the mall was full this weekend, and also tonight. A few weeks ago the grocery stores seemed rather empty, but that seems to have returned to normal. Course gas was higher back a few weeks and even the streets seemed rather deserted of cars.
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