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U.S. consumers curbed their Christmas spending in December and more people filed claims for jobless benefits last week, casting fresh doubts on whether the economic recovery can last once government support fades.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales fell 0.3 percent last month, the first decline in three months, as consumers spent less on vehicles and an array of other goods during the holiday shopping month.
November sales were sharply revised up to a 1.8 percent gain and October sales were bumped up a touch as well. Financial markets had expected retail sales to gain 0.5 percent last month.
I don't think manufacturing is the answer, though. I think it is making business a lot smaller and focusing on providing specialized goods and specialized services domestically and locally instead of importing and outsourcing--IOW, getting small. But I think we won't do that until more falls apart and we don't have any other choice.
I have no idea how or whether ecommerce is going to weather the future. I just keep working on developing other income and skills.
I am not a big fan of subsidies. However, if it's a choice between using tax money for unemployment benefits or using that same money to subsidize companies to move manufacturing back onshore from offshore (*IF* that money is used to hire employees instead of bonuses for management) and pay those same people to work, then I *might* be in favor of some sort of subsidies.
So how can sales pick up ?
Stop giving taxpayer dollars to state governments and government projects, and stop making business owners nervous. There's money to be invested in business, but the owners are afraid of what the government is going to do next. If the owner hires a person, will the owner be paying more in taxes on that worker? Will the owner be paying more in taxes on himself, and how much?
Nobody knows what's going on, and it's making everyone gun shy.
I also think you are right that people get sick of being scared. I thought I saw that some a few months after the whole implosion at the end of 2008. Usually January is when things start to pick up for me. It's been very uneven so far, so I'll see.
In my niche, I've noticed that the people having the worst trouble are folks selling raw materials to tiny businesses. I've been discontinuing my raw materials for the past year and making more original products. They are used to give the buyer a sense of empowerment, but I have also differentiated them from other similar widgets by turning them into small luxuries, thinkign that people can't afford a plasma tv anymore (maybe they never could), but they can afford my little widget and it will make them feel better every time they use it. I'd be interested to hear if other folks here have changed the focus or direction of their widgets, tailoring them to be more luxe or what.