Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Decline and Fall of American Consumerism: The View from the Trenches (Part II)

Alma and I returned to the Westfield Culver City Mall last night. As we had Friday night, we again walked for 90 minutes, from 5:45 - 7:15 p.m.

There were more people at the mall last night and, judging from the shopping bags they were carrying, shoppers were buying things at the mall last night. However, the feeling was decidedly muted and I again saw many retail shops with no customers in them. Specifically, there are four specialty jewelry outlets: Zales, Kay, Romano and Kevin's and, with seven complete circuits in 90 minutes, I saw at best 1-2 people patronizing any of the four. The 3 Foot Locker outlets (Foot Locker, Ladies Foot Locker and Kids Foot Locker) also had at best 4-5 customers between them. This in the space of 90 minutes on a Saturday evening.

When I checked Foot Locker stock on a lark, I was shocked to see that its stock price went up more than 10% on Friday alone. Why? Well, the per-share earnings had doubled in the previous quarter (from $0.16/share to $0.33/share), surprising analysts and the market. All I could do is shake my head - clearly that doubling in earnings is not coming from the Westfield Culver City mall, based on what I've been seeing.

In fact, all 3 of the stocks I checked (Foot Locker, Zales and Kay Jewelry) saw their share prices go up on Friday. So it's probably just as well that I only joked about selling shares of the stocks short, as I would have been punished for my presumption.

It appears as if the bad weather has lifted today, so Alma and I shall be heading down to the beach today. But I have no doubt we shall be returning to the malls soon when the weather turns inclement again.

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