Retail 101 in an Election Year


Way back in 1992, I was going into my third Christmas Season as a small business owner.  My mother and I were “had” by a 10,000 foot monster called The Mill Gallery.  It was in Crossroads, South Carolina.  The first two seasons were fantastic, then came the summer of 1992, and it was like the bottom had dropped out of my business.

I was frantic.

My sister happened to mention it to her now ex-mother-in-law, who had been in the bookstore business for many years in Fort Smith.  Right after Cathy talked to her, she gave me a call.

When she had first gone into business, like me, her first couple of years were incredible.  Then came that next summer and fall.  She too was frantic.  She had five little boys to support, and no husband.  Fearing that she would need to close up shop, she went to local retailers for advise.

They told her what she told me.

When you are into a presidential election cycle where things are in doubt and the economy is shaky, starting in early May, people stop spending money on non essentials. It happens every time, on a predictable basis, hitting retailers who specialize in the little luxuries of life like books, junk food, shoes, clothing, housewares.  People will only buy what they really need.

She told me I would see a huge difference the Friday starting after the election, no matter who won. The moment the election ends, people will go out and start spending, out of a sense of relief that everything is settled.

She was right!  By that Saturday and Sunday, my sales had increased far above the other two years for those dates.  I ended up with one of my best Christmas seasons ever.

Listening to Bloomberg (the only news I now watch), it is quite obvious that people are not spending on anything but essentials.  In the UK, spending is up and the housing market is up.  The UK is always a indicator of what is going to happen here so many months later.

People are very unsure of things.  There is nothing that torpedoes retail numbers like uncertainty. What is happening these past few weeks is absolutely predictable.

The problem is that the economic pundits don’t come from a small retail background.  Remember, small business is now pond scum.  All that matters is bigger and bigger, and damn the little guy.  We the Little People no longer matter.  If someone would simply bother talking to small business owners who have been in retail for a number of years, they could quickly tell them the patter.

I will be willing to bet my toy poodle that, by the weekend after the election, no matter who is elected (or reelected) retail will pick up, considerably.

Right now, we’re dealing with a bunch of completely irrational conservative pundits, reporters, and bloggers who are so determined to not only defeat Barack Obama, but to destroy him, that they are doing exactly what they condemned Obama of doing in 2008.  Remember when he trash talked the economy so badly that he nearly destroyed the Las Vegas economy?  Remember how we acted?  We were rightly livid.

So, what is the right doing but the same thing.

You can’t have it both ways and survive with any integrity remaining.  The right is currently skating on a very thin layer of integrity “ice”.  Not much is left.  They have become as dishonorable, disgusting, and dishonest as the left. We’re left with a group of men and women who will do anything to stop Obama, even if it means killing the patient (our economy) to do it.

There are none so blind as those who refuse to see – what is going on here.  If the current “likability” figures from Bloomberg are accurate, Mitt Romney is in a world of hurt.  People vote the economy.  They also vote for whom they like, against whom they dislike and fear.  If these numbers are any indication, the GOP had best wake up and figure out how to distance themselves from a candidate who is a combination of the worst traits of Michael Dukakis and John Kerry combined.

The other day, The Pink Flamingo’s mother made the remark that she noticed how the media, especially the conservative media was trash talking the economy.  She reminded me of the days right after 9/11 when George W. Bush literally saved the economy by talking up the US, and reminding people that we have a consumer based economy.

In the summer of 2008 Barack Obama drove the final nail in the economy by telling people not to spend money, that things were that bad.  So, they became worse.

The way you bring this economy back from the brink is by encouraging people to go out and spend money, to literally invest in America.  Until we have a politician with the wisdom of George W. Bush, to go out and do just that, we’re in deep you know what.

Just what does one do to get conservatives to consider country above their own increasingly worthless political hides?

Things will pick up the weekend after the election in November. Until then, we’re going to be faced with a constant litany of how bad things are.  It just makes you wonder, who are the worst fools, liberals or conservatives, Democrats, or the 2012 edition of the GOP?