After the busy January weekends at retail in my local area, today the commercial neighborhoods looked like a ghost town. Some stores closed early so workers could get home before dark. It was cold weather that kept people home. Temperatures around 11°F were just cold enough to persuade people that they shouldn’t be outside. I know there are places where 11°F temperatures are considered normal, but in southern Pennsylvania, weather this cold is rare enough that we don’t have much knowledge of it. Avoidance is probably the most practical response.
If people weren’t out shopping, what were they doing? I spoke to a few people who were working on their taxes, with the deadlines more than a month away. This is perhaps another sign of easing time pressure. Consumer time pressure had been going up for so long, 30 years at least, than it seemed it would just continue to go up indefinitely, but it now seems we are starting to see a reversal of that trend.