OK, let’s see what happens now.
For months all of the suits who make predictions about the economy have been talking about how the Presidential election has put consumers in a spending funk, pivoting when they should have been spending, gasping for any sort of fresh air when they could have been sucking in the fumes of conspicuous consumption.
It didn’t take long for the folks who run retailing companies – and the vendors who supply them – to jump on this political bandwagon and blame the election for every financial woe they could think of. General retailers said shoppers weren’t going to the stores, obsessed with the latest Fox News shenanigans and unable to dislodge the remote from their spending hands. Moviemakers blamed a blah fall, not on blah movies, but on the blah mood of people who would otherwise be slathering butter-like fluids on their theater munchies. Even fast food restaurants said their secret sauces were getting stale due to a lack of gratuitous carb-and-fat eaters too depressed about the presidential choices to raise neither their hands nor their cholesterol. All of this while traditional consumer confidence polls showed pretty much nothing of the sort when it came to the mood of America. And all of this while unemployment continued to decline, gasoline prices sustained their miraculous moderation movement and the strength of the U.S. dollar kept the cost of imports steady and often lower.
Yet the blame game continues on the part of American business. Just wait until this stupid election is over, they say, and things will be better. Well, the election is just about over and it’s time to shop up or shut up. We have always been told by those economists (the same ones who totally missed the Great Recession of 2008-2009, but that’s another story…) that consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the American economy. If that’s even close to true – and you believe all of this theorizing that consumers are going to feel better after the election is over – the next seven weeks of the year should be downright spectacular.
All of that pent-up demand, that frustration with the choice of candidates, that anger over the political process, that obsession with email, foul language, servers and bad hair and wardrobe choices: all of it will be gone. Sure, just under half of the people in the country are going to be unhappy about the election outcome. But even 50 percent of American consumers consuming is better than what we’ve had.
Will this holiday season be a blockbuster? Some of the forecasters seem to think it will be above average, if not necessarily a killer. Certainly, everyone who has been blaming the election for the business malaise will be pulling for a good one. American retailers sure could use it. If for no other reason than it’s getting harder and harder to come up with new excuses why business sucks.
Warren Shoulberg is editorial director for several Progressive Business Media home furnishings business publications and hasn’t begun his Christmas shopping yet…not because of the election but because he always waits until the last minute for everything.