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Shop 'til You Drop

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted November 26, 2007

First there was "Black Friday". And now thanks to the Internet there is something called "Cyber Monday". But no matter how you get there, one thing about this Christmas season is already crystal clear.

And borrowing a bit here from Winston Churchill it’s this: Never has the good of so many ever depended on the spending power of so few.

Those few, of course, are American consumers, and to a large extent all the entire world can do now is watch, wait, and hope that they’ll show up again this year.

But so far it’s off to slow start.

From Bloomberg by Cotton Timberlake and Tiffany Kary entitled: U.S. Consumers Spent Average of 3.5% less on Shopping.

"U.S. consumers spent an average of 3.5 percent less during the post-Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend than a year earlier as retailers slashed prices to lure customers grappling with higher food and energy costs.

Shoppers spent $347.44 on purchases from Nov. 22 through today, choosing to buy less-expensive digital-photo frames and cashmere sweaters, the National Retail Federation said today in a statement. Store visits increased 4.8 percent.

Customers have cut back on spending in the face of increased costs for milk and gasoline and the worst housing slump in 16 years. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. responded by offering holiday discounts more than two weeks earlier than last year while Macy’s Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. reduced clothing prices by as much as 60 percent.

“The sense we have this year is that shoppers are very mission-focused,” said Fred Crawford, managing director for consulting and advisory firm AlixPartners LLP. ‘They know who is carrying what, and at what price point.’"

Keeping an eye on it all naturally will be Chinese, which is pretty ironic given how the government treats Christians there. An America suddenly turned cold could bury them since they are not nearly as decoupled as they hoped they were.

In fact, just last week China’s Commerce Ministry admitted as much when it warned that a slowing U.S. economy would trigger a drop in exports that would mark a "turning point" for China’s economic growth.

"If demand in the US drops further, Chinese exporters will be devastated by a rapid and continuous fall in orders," according to report, written by the Chinese ministry’s policy research department and published on the ministry’s website.

So get out there and spend America…the fate of the world depends on you.

Just don’t forget to take your credit card. You’ll need it.