If we are looking to see any meaningful improvement in overall employment in 2010, we’ll need to boost our spending during this holiday season.
Consider this: Following the dismal sales results of the Christmas 2008 shopping season, 2.1 million people lost their jobs in the first quarter of 2009.
While it’s true that unemployment dropped from 10.2% in October to 10% in November, these results are skewed. First, there has been an increase in the number of people that are perceived as having “left the job force”, those that haven’t looked for work for the last four weeks. Second, there was a rise in the number of folks that secured “temporary” employment, which typically always goes up during the Chrismas season.
Wall Street will put their usual positive spin on increased sales that will be realized by some companies. But it’s not hard for a Best Buy to pick up market share in the wake of Circuit City closing its doors. So one won’t always be able to gauge the movement towards economic recovery by individual store results.
And as we hear announcements comparing this season’s cumulative totals to last years, remember, it won’t be hard to show positive results over December 2008 numbers.
Consumer confidence is at an all time low. Yet consumer spending drives 70% of our economy. Those still employed are worried about losing their jobs. Many are worried about losing their homes. Folks are dealing with increase in heating, water and electric costs, while gas prices continue to sneak up. They’ve been battered by the banking industry’s unrelenting rise in their credit card rates and the slashing of their credit lines. None of these things will encourage Christmas spending this season.
Still, in this season of giving, please remember that our holiday spending has the power to jump-start 2010. We need to send a signal to business owners and managers that we are confident that better times are upon us and that we are confident in our nation’s ability to recover. Consumer spending is the best way to send that message. And it’s the only thing that will encourage the creation of new jobs early-on in 2010.
To those that are still feeling blessed in these challenging times, embrace the spirit of Christmas. Buy a toy for the child of a neighbor that is unemployed. Put together a basket of food and leave it at their doorstep. For those of us that are less fortunate, donate some time to a local soup kitchen serving others. If ever there was a time to do this, the time is now.
My heartfelt wishes to you all for a very Merry Christmas and blessings for the New Year.