I’ve heard more than a few stories coming from the White House about how the economic recovery is going just great, thank you very much, even if most working class Americans don’t buy it. But if I had to ask one person who probably carries more credibility than the President, it might be Santa Claus. Consumer spending on Christmas presents seems to be a fairly reliable indicator and has been so for decades. The early shopping is already underway (as annoying as that is to say) and folks are getting a good idea of how much they think they’ll be spending this season.
At The Corner, Michael Strain has what may … just maybe … be an indicator that things are getting a little better. Christmas spending is still not where it was in 2007, but it’s on the rise.
I’m happy to admit that though it’s only October I’m already looking forward to Christmas. And the good folks at Gallup are asking about it as a way to better understand our economy’s recovery.
Here’s the chart covering this factoid over the past couple of decades.
We saw yet another dip in 2013, but this one seems to be moving in the right direction. And, again, there’s still a long way to go, but could the economy be building a slow immunity to the problems which have been plaguing it for seven years? Retailers provide a lot of jobs at this time of year, even if they are temporary ones targeting students. And those people who start getting a paycheck tend to spend some of it and spread the wealth around. A good Christmas season can be good not just for the retailers, but for the entire country.
So is this real? Is it a case of the polls are skewed!!!! Or are people just learning to adjust to the new normal, planning further ahead and figuring out a way to make a good Christmas for their families while sacrificing in other areas throughout the year? That last one is the possibility that keeps me up at night. It’s been six years, and I’m sorry to say that we resilient humans tend to adjust to any circumstances eventually. If the job market and the economy are still generally ill, but US shoppers knuckle down and find a way to buy their gifts anyway, this could be a false positive which influences policy when much more work is really needed.