Retail sales are up, household debt is down and the economy is growing a bit faster than we thought. But jobs are still scarce, and times are still tough.
From today's WSJ:
Dollar Tree, Dollar General Corp. and Family Dollar Stores Inc. have been some of the biggest winners during the recession, even as most retailers suffered. And though some luxury shops are now reporting better sales of expensive baubles, analysts are predicting that Christmas 2010 will be another good one for dollar stores.
Some of the customers are relatively well-off, switched from fancier stores during the recession, and are continuing to shop at dollar stores by choice. Others have fewer options:
The slow and uneven economic recovery means that a lot of core-customer low-income families continue to turn to them for deals. And there are more such shoppers: Census data suggest that the number of households with incomes under $35,000 has jumped by almost 1.8 million since 2007, before the recession started.
And, from the the U.K., the Daily Mail reports on another holiday sign of the times:
Supermarkets are putting electronic tags on their turkeys in an attempt to beat thefts triggered by hard times this Christmas.
The stores have taken the drastic action in direct response to a rise in shoplifting of food caused by the squeeze on family budgets.