Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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

The weather remaining cold and windy yesterday, Alma and I decided to venture a little further afield to the Westside Pavillion at the intersection of Pico and Westwood Boulevards. The WP is quite a bit more upscale than the Westfield Culver City mall I described initially. For one thing, there is no Target, no Old Navy and no Best Buy at the WP. Instead, the WP is anchored by a Nordstrom's and, in lieu of Old Navy, has a Banana Republic (the upscale relative to Old Navy and the Gap).

Likewise, the WP is connected by a so-called Sky Bridge to a Barnes & Noble and multiplex cinema. So the WP has a few more cultural connections than the purely consumer-driven Westfield CC mall. And, given is proximity to the main UCLA campus at the other end of Westwood Boulevard, the WP would seem to attract a mix of middle class academics, students and Westwood residents.

Again, the dominant feeling I had was that activity was quite muted. Now granted, this was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the so-called 'Black Friday' stampede. But once again, in walking by Foot Locker and Lady Foot Locker (no Kids Foot Locker at WP), I was struck by a complete and total absence of customers. Same applies to most of the specialty apparel shops. Interestingly, the one shop that seemed to be having more than a few gawkers and idlers was a local shop, 'OC Design'. The WP had only one jewelry retailer, Zales, that I could see, and like the Westfield mall, this Zales had zero customers in the 90 minutes we were walking the mall and the 30 minutes that Alma went to OC Design.

Overall, though, I would have to say that I foresee a very shabby holiday season for these retailers. Alma noted that yesterday was a weekday and that tmost people tend to shop in malls on the weekends. Alma predicts the WP will be quite busy on the weekend, but I am not so sure. We may go there this coming weekend and, if so, I will supply a 'Part IV' to this running commentary.

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