My very own newspaper is printing "mixed signals" when it comes to the nation’s economy. Specifically, this past Saturday, I picked up the Statesboro Herald and saw what I would consider to be opposing headlines. Headline one – The green flies on black Friday. Headline two – Nation awaits housing fallout: New wave of mortgage failures could create nightmare scenario in U.S.
One article touts a busy shopping Friday after Thanksgiving with the cash flowing, and another was one of the most depressing I have ever read containing the following quote, "We haven't faced a downturn like this since the Depression," said Bill Gross, chief investment officer of PIMCO, the world's biggest bond fund.
So, which is it? Christmas as usual for most Americans, or are we consumers pulling back the reigns in anticipation of tough economic times. Sometimes the answer to some of life's most complex questions can be found in very simple places.
Down to L&D Produce I went on an overcast, cold Saturday in search of some answers. With beautiful Christmas trees from North Carolina on display, and citrus and nuts in abundance, I asked David Gerrald, owner of L&D, how things were going.
"It really is interesting," Gerrald said. "I have a base of customers that buy a Christmas tree from me every year, and they still are. The difference is that they are spending less, opting to buy a tree that isn't as big as the ones they have bought in the past."
Gerrald said he did not increase the price of his trees from last year even though fuel costs have risen dramatically, significantly impacting his costs.
"People can only pay so much, so we have had to eat the increased cost of the fuel," he said. "It isn't that the trees are more expensive, it's just people are not spending as much this year as they have in the past. They are pulling in a bit."
So, with that knowledge in hand, I went to the Statesboro Mall just to observe people shopping. Was it true? Are people spending less? With the understanding that mine was not a true poll of any type, merely an observation on a dreary Saturday afternoon, my gut is yes, people are not going "hog wild" just yet.
What I saw were people "deliberately" shopping, looking at prices very carefully, and spending with restraint. Granted, I did go to the mall Friday morning, and there were hordes of shoppers, but even then, I did not see massive bags of purchases spilling out of the doors. In addition, I ran into a local restaurant owner who said their business had been off for the last month.
People are nervous. Iraq dominated headlines have been replaced by economic dominated headlines and even in the Boro, we are not immune. Thank goodness that in tough times entrepreneurs continue to persevere, and for that, my children are very grateful.
Scoops candy and ice cream store is slated to open on December 6 in Woodland Square. Owner Marcia Parker told me the final touches are being completed and they are preparing for a busy Christmas season. The newly opened Krystal appears wildly successful, and I noticed that the former Golden Corral is being transformed into the Southern Buffet restaurant.
With all of the good things happening around us, I have decided to pep up and not let the depressing news get me down. I am going to grab a couple of Krystal burgers and head to Scoops on December 6. Hope to see you there.
Until next week, I bid you au revoir.
Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org