Thanksgiving is just a day away, and the national Christmas shopping extravaganza is supposed to follow before the final fork of the fabulous feast has been digested.
But the nation isn’t in the best condition for retailers to feel good about sales in the final quarter. Gasoline prices in many places like the Kansas City area are under $3 a gallon. That will help consumers feel a bit more generous as they shop for holiday gifts.
But the weather isn’t cooperating. Snow, heavy rain and high winds in many parts of the country will cause a lot of people to stay home instead of hit the stores to shop.
Add to that consumer confidence in the economy being at the lowest point in seven months. Blame it on people’s continuing concerns about their jobs and whether hiring is picking up. Congress’ ongoing fight with the president over the Affordable Care Act and everything else doesn’t help.
People hold on to their disposable income when they aren’t feeling great about the economy. Pope Francis also expressed people’s concerns about the growing economic inequality in the world.
The middle class is struggling to stay afloat. People below them on the socio-economic ladder feel a sense of hopelessness and despair.
The folks at the top of the income and wealth ladder feel great. But they aren’t the ones who spend the money that carries the economy.
The middle-, working- and lower-income folks do the heavy lifting. They always have.
If they stay out of the stores, it could be a difficult holiday season.