Back from my first real vacation since moving to California 10 months ago. Tried to ignore the news as much as possible, but noticed a few things.
Holiday Sales: The overall decline in holiday sales is no surprise. What is a surprise is that on-line sales declined by as much (or even a little more depending on the data source) as traditional sales. I didn't expect that at all. I wonder if this is a holiday anomaly (people wanted to go out shopping even if they were going to spend less), or a sign that the boom in on-line retail is waning. If there is any hopeful news in this season for shopping centers, I guess this is it.
Governor times unpopular announcements: Making controversial or unpopular announcements late on a Friday or before a holiday is the oldest PR trick in the book. The Governor did it twice last week making the $41 billion budget proposal on New Year's Eve and the Delta Vision announcement recommending a peripheral canal without legislative or voter approval on a holiday weekend Friday afternoon - thereby ensuring skimping news reports and reporters inability to contact opponents. Both moves were disapointing, but understandable.
Obama stimulus plan changing and faces delays: We need this now, so it is disapointing to see Congress already predicting mid-February for getting it done. This makes it even tougher for state budget makers in CA and elsewhere who won't know the extent of federal help for some time. I am a bit surprised by the extent of corporate tax breaks in this morning's proposal. The details are not as clear as I expected at this point.