I think I know what the government can do to boost consumer spending: have the weather service forecast a major storm every couple of weeks.
A major storm, around here, isn’t likely to keep people off the streets for more than a day. That doesn’t stop the people who are getting ready for the storm from buying an extra shopping cart full of supplies. I saw this yesterday and today even though the reported chance of a major snow event on Tuesday or Wednesday was less than 50 percent. It’s not really a question of probabilities — if something big is going on, people don’t want to be left behind.
As long as people have the perception that nothing is happening, they won’t have a reason to buy anything. But that’s a perception that the forecasters — the weather forecasters — have the power to change.