Americans keep shopping, despite everything

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Midday on Black Friday outside the Pittsfield, Mass., Wal-Mart

Midday on Black Friday outside the Pittsfield, Mass., Wal-Mart

So after all the worrying, the first weekend of Christmas shopping turned out to be … okay. From CNNMoney:

The National Retail Federation (NRF), an industry trade group, said shoppers spent $41 billion in the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend. The average shopper spent $372.57, up 7.2% from the $347.55 spent last year.

What we’ve seen so far this fall is a big pull-back in spending on cars and on housing-related stuff (building materials and furniture). That, and spending on gasoline is way down because gas prices are way down. But spending on necessities other than gas isn’t down, and people are still headed to the Wal-Mart and buying stuff for Christmas (I bought three board games and a fishing rod, although they were meant for pre-Christmas use so maybe they shouldn’t count). I’m not sure, though, whether we should take this as a sign that things aren’t nearly as bad as many (myself included) thought, or that when everybody wakes up and it’s January, things will really go off a cliff.

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