I am seeing a new pattern in traffic this fall. As sunset comes earlier, there are fewer people out in the middle evening. Traffic in retail areas in the middle evening hours looks more like late evening. On the other hand, daytime traffic is higher. I have come upon heavy retail traffic in daylight hours on the last two weekends. Yesterday, the longest lines were at Goodwill where people were buying costumes for Halloween. Restaurants that were packed in happy hour were thinning out by the middle of dinner hour.
The earlier nightfall of fall might have triggered this change, but it is not really the cause. I think there are four things going on.
- There is a downturn in nightlife. This fall’s movie releases aren’t catching the attention of movie fans. Business is soft at bars and concerts.
- Drivers are adapting to the high price of motor fuel by combining trips. Most of these combined trips are on the way home from work or on Saturday afternoon.
- People are reserving time to communicate online in the evening.
- Shoppers are saving up for Christmas.
Instead of being out on the town, people are out on the Internet. Part of the reason is to spend less money. Once you have learned to tune out the fog of advertising that permeates the online experience (see tomorrow’s post on this), you are less likely to spend money online than at any physical commercial place you might visit.