We all know how the economy is going right now. Bailouts, cut-backs, lay offs, etc.
But one industry that has not had much press of late, although affected just as much as any other by the current economic situation, is the retail industry.
It is no surprise that sales are down, with consumers buying little more than what is absolutely necessary, and certainly shying away from the higher priced items, looking for bargains and trying to spend as little as possible.
There have been no reports of any notable Christmas hires this season outside of the traditional Santa Claus representatives and their photo taking associates.
The results of the annual Black Friday sales push starting the holiday season for retailers were nowhere near expectations. The crowds were out and about, but for the reasons stated above, a physical presence did not always translate into revenue.
Cyber Monday the following week was better, with less overhead for businesses since all transactions of the day were conducted on line, but then again the end results were not as spectacular as hoped for.
Retailers are closing less profitable outlets and cutting back staff in others, which will put more people out of work.
Other businesses are following suit, as well as cutting back hours. There have been a lot of companies that are now only giving full time employees 32 hours a week instead of 40.
Personally, I cannot blame any of the above for doing what they must to stay open. It is better to operate a business at a reduced capacity than to close outright.
Although I must point out that there are some companies that do not think of those affected by the "cost cutting measures" and others that go out of their way to minimize the impact of those actions upon their employees. If any of this involves you dear reader, hopefully you work(ed) for one of the latter.
The best news for the consumer in all of this is that right now retailers are doing everything they can to earn your business. Sale discounts are the highest they have been in a long time. Most stores have even gone ahead and left their discount areas open and even added additional stock to those shelves instead of putting it all away for the holidays.
But while the bottom line is the ultimate objective for both retailers and consumers alike, only time will reveal the results of this annual contest between the need to buy and the need to save.