Geographic Area: Georgia
I'm a subscriber too, and I check your site every day, hoping for an update. Keep them coming!
I'm a retail merchant in the deep South (men's good to better specialty clothing), and let me tell you: things are 'soft'.
That's a euphemism for it sucks. The representatives of clothing companies are making their rounds calling on retailers getting orders for spring 2003 delivery, and they are all answering the same way when I ask them how retailers around their territories are doing: "Things are soft". See above.
I looked at a line of sport coats today from a company out of Bremen, Georgia. One range of goods costs $109.95 per sport coat if it is made in Bremen, Ga. (Most retailers get roughly $225 for this item reg. price.). This same company is resourcing the exact same piecegoods out of the 'Pacific Rim' for $52.00. Same coat. Almost identical quality.
Same suggested retail. Now what would YOU do? People aren't buying anything until it goes on sale anyway, .............oh, well, just my 2 cents worth.
Also, another thought.
I'm a director of a 'de novo' bank here in town -- all of the old local banks got bought out by the BIG BANKS. About 10 of us local businessmen got together, hired a 'retired' 48 year old former bank president who had gotten pink-slipped, raised about 3.5 million in seed capital, and off we went. In five years, we have gone to $188 million in assets with capital of about $15 million.
The astonishing thing to me, though, is that ROUGHLY 30% of our income comes from NSF fees! People pay this and rarely bitch about it. I've talked to directors of other banks that shop in my store, and they all say that is about what their banks do too!
Be an Economist!