Uncertainty retains its psychological grip on many Americans, residents of Juneau included - but less so if the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping rush is any indication.
Sales tax collection figures will be available in time. For now, much of the evidence is anecdotal. Local shoppers crowded into Kmart when the doors opened at 5 a.m. on Friday. The parking lot at Fred Meyer appeared to be full at 6 a.m. Dozens of people lined up outside Nugget Mall waiting for the doors to open at 7 a.m.
Just business as usual? No big deal? As a matter of fact, business as usual seems like a very big deal in a world beset with terrorism, anthrax, war and recession.
Look at it this way: How would we feel if Kmart, Fred Meyer and Nugget Mall threw their pre-dawn shopping parties on Friday and nobody came? The silence could have been deafening. Instead, many of us found comfort in the patter of shoppers' feet, the buzz and click of electronic cash registers (does anyone still have a cash register that rings up a sale?), and the friendly competition to snatch up sale-priced items.
Business as usual does not mean local residents have dismissed the events set in motion on Sept. 11. It is possible to be prudent, patriotic and active as consumers. It is better to be spending, traveling and planning for the future than to allow Osama bin Laden and the illegitimate sons of Islam to cause permanent paralysis to our open society.
As we adjust to the new priorities of a changed world, there are ample reminders of the need and benefit of living sensibly. What Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan described as "irrational exuberance" probably is in the rearview mirror once and for all, the mad dash for "Nugget Bucks" notwithstanding.
Including today, there are 30 shopping days until Christmas. And, it has been 75 days since we received our once-in-a-lifetime wake-up call. While spending for the moment, try to save for the future as well. And, remember that charitable giving also is a form of spending - the kind that makes you feel really good. Spend wisely; give generously. Life goes on.