June 07, 2002
Consumer Confidence

Two or three years back, I used to joke that I wanted to write an opera about the process my husband and his co-workers went through launching their software start-up business. Now that the bubble has burst, it's clear that the scenario is less Gilbert & Sullivan and more Gotterdammerung. As we enter into round XVI of layoffs, I find myself moving certain items further and further down the "to do list": Buy new curtains. Renovate the office. Schedule that vacation. In the face of the potential loss of half our household income, big-ticket items don't seem like such a good idea.

While I'm probably being overly cautious, it occurs to me that I'm perpetuating the cycle of consumer confidence that the analysts are always talking about. Average folks who are worried about their jobs tend not to buy as much stuff. So Pottery Barn, Home Depot, and the carpenter who could build us record shelves don't get any business. On an individual level, this doesn't make a dent (except for the poor carpenter, maybe). But what if there are 20,000 people doing the same thing as me? Or 200,000?

On the other hand, I'm a terrible cheapskate and will bargain-hunt relentlessly if I think I'm not getting my money's worth. Maybe the retailers ought to breathe a sigh of relief that I'm staying home.

Posted at June 07, 2002 09:02 AM