Reporter's Note: I have started my Christmas shopping, and I’m sure the White House is hoping an awful lot of other Americans get busy laying down their dollars soon. After all, economic recoveries don’t come in red sleighs. You’ve got to build them. Just as I am building an unbroken record of writing to the president every day.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
Have you been to a mall lately? I suspect not. I can’t recall the last time I saw video of a president in a mall. Which is a little strange, because I’ve seen pictures of you presidential types in everything from dairy barns to motorboat factories. And heaven knows if you wanted to see how the economy was doing a mall would be a pretty good place to end your quest.
“Where do you travel, good sir?”
“I seek the oracle of the economy.”
“Then continue on. It’s down on the left. It’s called J. Crew.”
Such a trip would be worthwhile, and here’s why. Like a lot of Americans, I have started plundering the shopping horizon to get ready for the holidays, and I’ve been struck by a number of things. Inventories seem to be down everywhere; like no one wants to risk getting stuck with a pile of purple turtlenecks that no one will buy.
The stores are not quite so stripped as to evoke that retro-commie-chic-Soviet look yet, (“Comrade, quick! Karkov’s Shop has a case of light bulbs!”) but compared to the opulence of past years, it does look like the Jim-John’s Variety Store version of Christmas. And to be honest, it’s a little depressing. Seems like a lot of the stores I knew are gone, and have been replaced by junkier places…you know, those shops that sell cheap jewelry to teenagers, or clothing so trashy even the Kardashians might blush. Maybe.
But if the malls are different, so are the shoppers. You don’t have to look too closely to see worry about jobs, worry about mortgages, worry about tuition, worry about worry.
I remember just a few years ago being vaguely disgusted by runaway consumerism; the frantic slapping down of plastic to buy truckloads of things we don’t need. Seriously, if you brought a pioneer from the 1800’s into a Sharper Image and said you needed to get something, he’d slap your face. I have nothing against people having nice things, and frankly I needed that massage chair. For medical reasons. The remote control dinosaur too.
But like I said, all of that is not much of a worry anymore. Still, if you want to take a little field trip, give me a call. We can get pretzels, maybe take in a movie…after all, if we don’t do our part for the economy at the mall, I suspect the economy will just keep mauling us.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with