Thanks for your comments:
There is widespread discontent regarding employment...
...Results in less disposable income...
Your points are true and valid.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to console myself because of recent news that many of the big chain stores have reported increasing sales figures. One designer of OVERPRICED women's athletic wear couldn't keep up with demand.
Also, have heard various news accounts that consumer confidence is higher than it has been in a few years. We have NOT been able to capitalize on that...
So even in this bad economy, some of the higher end merchants have been killing it, and our business (and we try to offer quality at a much more modest price point) has not.
Factor in your own budgets... are you maintaining the same spend as before?
Due to the ineptitude of the marketing department (i.e., me), we have had little to no advertising spend. It was recently pointed out to me that despite doing adwords, I had failed to include the adwords tracking code on our sites. Oh, so that is why reported conversion rates were so low. Who knew?
Aside from our feeble and stupid attempt at adwords, we haven't really done any marketing. We have relied on organic search for the last decade, and as you pointed out earlier, the ascendance of big brands in the SERPs is significantly impacting us mom and pop stores.
Still looking for that better mousetrap to market which will insure high income. :)
I think that in today's economy, that statement is truer than it has ever been.