Economists, the Federal Reserve and governmental entities use specific economic indicators to determine the health of the economy and forecast business and trade cycles. Such indices as earnings reports, the unemployment rate, housing starts, the Consumer Price Index, industrial production, bankruptcies, Gross Domestic Product, retail sales, and stock market prices.
Well I have my own set of five indicators that I use to predict how good sales are going to be for retailers during the Christmas season. (1) How many of my neighbors have up outdoor Christmas decorations and how early did they put them up? (2) How many items are people buying from Amazon after clicking through from my website? (3) How bad is the traffic congestion near the malls? (4) How difficult is it to find a parking place — how far do I have to park away from the star? (5) How long are the lines at the local discount stores?
So, what does the Stilley Christmas Index predict for retailers in 2010? It is going to be bad; really bad. We are only two weeks away from Christmas and very few of my neighbors have outdoor Christmas decorations deployed, fewer people are buying from my Amazon links than any year in the four years I have been blogging, there is little difference in the traffic levels near the malls than there is at any other time of year, I have no trouble getting a parking place close to stores, and cashiers were standing around with no one to ring up during my visits to Target and Wal-Mart this week.
I predict that this is going to be a really, really bad year for retailers.