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Does anyone feel the Recovery?
Old 02-24-2010, 01:16 PM   #1
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Does anyone feel the Recovery?

I just spent a few days in Manhattan with a large number of retail stores near my downtown hotel and my wanderings through them during the day actually made me depressed.

I went to a Macy's, a BB&B, a H&M, an Old Navy, and several more. In all of them, and I do mean ALL, there were many more staff than customers. At the BB&B near Columbus Circle, at 3PM, I was the only customer in the store for several minutes and did not see more than 3-4 other customers in the 30 minutes.

As Buffett and Lynch, before him, I tend to believe what I actually see, and I do not see a recovery.

Anyone else with a better story, I need something to give me optimism?
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:19 PM   #2
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As long as the recovery doesn't include a recovery in employment, your observation will continue to be the case.

Longer term I just don't think other measures of economic growth and recovery can be sustained if the jobs don't start coming back too.
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:24 PM   #3
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My nestegg is doing SO much better than it was last March. I am really happy with it. Businesses here seem to be thriving with plenty of customers. More new businesses seem to be opening all the time. Restaurants have waiting lists.

Real estate seems to be lagging, though. I don't notice many new cars on the road. So, I think that people here might be holding off on big purchases.

Don't really know about unemployment. It has always been a big problem here but I haven't noticed any indications that it is worse. No more people knocking on the door looking for work than before. But then, New Orleans has a tourist economy and we just got done with the Saints Superbowl win, and the biggest Mardi Gras ever.
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:25 PM   #4
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Yes, retail seems to be slowing down again. I was at Banana Republic yesterday and it was just me and 4 sales associates. And that was during a well publicized 4-hour sales event!
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:26 PM   #5
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Yes, retail seems to be slowing down again. I was at Banana Republic yesterday and it was just me and 4 sales associates. And that was during a well publicized 4-hour sales event!
Personally I think there was a burst of optimism when the stock market recovered, job losses bottomed out and the GDP started growing.

But I suspect that optimism is starting to wane as more and more months pass without seeing more jobs return.

Which is why I think the double dip is a few months away if the jobs -- real, sustainable private sector jobs -- don't start returning in the meantime.
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:28 PM   #6
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Personally I think there was a burst of optimism when the stock market recovered, job losses bottomed out and the GDP started growing.

But I suspect that optimism is starting to wane as more and more months pass without seeing more jobs return.
Yes, that's my opinion as well.
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:39 PM   #7
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Home construction going like gangbusters down here in my neighborhood. Retailers in general are packed too - especially on the weekends when the Mexicans tourists go shopping.

By I expect job growth to be very slow.

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Old 02-24-2010, 02:03 PM   #8
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Anecdotal evidence can be hard to interpret.

Here's the weekly same store sales growth over the past year. Things have leveled off, but growth is still positive. At 2% year-over-year growth we're about average over the cycle but weak for a period of early recovery.
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:04 PM   #9
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Modest increase in retail sales here, but housing is still very slow.
I think the jobs outlook is terrible and will be for years as China continues to eat our lunch.
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:09 PM   #10
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I think the jobs outlook is terrible and will be for years as China continues to eat our lunch.
Well, they have to eat something, I suppose.

TIME Magazine: China - Labor Lost
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:16 PM   #11
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Well, as I expected it must depend on location. My daughter said Mountain View (near San Jose) is a ghost town downtown with many shops closed and others empty of customers. But she just visited a friend in El Paso and she said they had a difficult time finding a place for lunch because every place was packed.

I want to feel optimistic that the worst is over and I'm just seeing the half empty, cracked glass, but my eyes....., my eyes.

My barber works a 9 hour day and says in 2007, he had 12-15 clients a day minimum and that it is now the lowest he's ever seen in his 29 years as a barber. Seeing a low of 3, but on a average 6-7 cuts a day. His shop has been open since 1979, and the owner is thinking of closing up.

My former boss is now a "hatchet man" at Coldwater Creek HQ and he just oversaw the closure of 7 stores in the last three months, one in Seattle had reduced staff by half last year and sales were "non-existent" for the last 3 quarters according to him.

As Buffett always stresses, believe what you see, not what you are told to see. I see no recovery yet.

I would love to see shops full again, it brings energy to the day.
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:20 PM   #12
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Recovery needs to be defined. GDP? The gov't hires a guy and pays him 50K. He spends 50K. He gets $4500 cash for clunkers, and with his new gov't job he's enticed to buy a $20,000 car. He gets about 20K here in Calif to buy a house and does. He now qualifies for a new credit card and maxes it out at $10,000. That's a hell of a lot of GDP based on a lot of bull.
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:38 PM   #13
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Recovery needs to be defined. GDP? The gov't hires a guy and pays him 50K. He spends 50K. He gets $4500 cash for clunkers, and with his new gov't job he's enticed to buy a $20,000 car. He gets about 20K here in Calif to buy a house and does. He now qualifies for a new credit card and maxes it out at $10,000. That's a hell of a lot of GDP based on a lot of bull.
:golfclap: Exactly.
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:50 PM   #14
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Well, they have to eat something, I suppose.

TIME Magazine: China - Labor Lost
Well if that article is meant to imply China is not a challenge to our economic standing and well being, it isn't apparent to me.
I'm sure you will explain though.
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:00 PM   #15
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After a big downdraft, it should not be a surprise that the recovery is choppy. But the residential and (shhhh, don't tell anyone) even the commercial real estate markets are stabilizing. Retail sales are starting to recover, etc. But we have a ways to go and it will take time, especially in the labor market (which always lags the economy).
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:07 PM   #16
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Recovery needs to be defined. GDP? The gov't hires a guy and pays him 50K. He spends 50K. He gets $4500 cash for clunkers, and with his new gov't job he's enticed to buy a $20,000 car. He gets about 20K here in Calif to buy a house and does. He now qualifies for a new credit card and maxes it out at $10,000. That's a hell of a lot of GDP based on a lot of bull.
Great point. Seems like tons of money being spent and possibly only creating an illusion. And possibly hoping folks buy into it.
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:11 PM   #17
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But we have a ways to go and it will take time, especially in the labor market (which always lags the economy).
Right, but when it lags longer than usual (the GDP started turning positive again what, nine months or so ago?), at some point people start to wonder if "this time it's different" and assume the jobs don't come back. And if that impacts their consumer behavior it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:19 PM   #18
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FWIW - my home borders on a development (mid-Atlantic state) that stopped building/selling homes two years ago. They had two spec homes that were 95% done, but just sat there.

Within the last 3-4 months, one of the two was sold. In addition they broke ground on three more (not spec homes, but customer builds), along with two more spec homes that were sold in a couple of weeks after framing was completed.

The delivered prices on these homes are in the $450-650k range.

While I'm retired and really don't spend time "buying stuff" nor worry about a job, the view from my little corner is that things are indeed looking up, from a year ago...
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:20 PM   #19
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Maybe. More likely we just go through another year of underlying recovery that won't really start to impact the labor market until next year. What's the old saw ? The four most expensive words in the English language are "this time its different."
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:45 PM   #20
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What I saw and what I see:

In 2008 and 2009 my wife and I would go out to dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings (4-7 pm timeframe) and walk in and get seated right away. Might be 30-50% capacity at an applebees, O Charley's or Outback.

In late 2009 and 2010 we now wait at the bar for 30 minutes before being seated in similar time slots
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