Monday, July 12, 2010

The Off-Season

Things have always slowed down for the summer in the Philadelphia area — but not like this. For the past three weeks, it has been looking like the off-season around here.

I know about the off-season because I’ve been to beach towns in months like March and November. I know what it looks like when a major street has, in the middle of the day, one car per block, and when a parking lot with 200 parking spaces has 4 cars in it.

But that’s not supposed to happen in the city, or the suburbs. The Philadelphia area traditionally doesn’t have an off-season. But it has been looking almost like it lately.

On Independence Day weekend, I mused that people were just staying home and saving their money. Looking at concert attendance, in a summer when promoters have scheduled about a third fewer shows, reinforces that thought. Attendance started out the summer reasonably strong, but shows scheduled for the rest of this month have not sold the way you would expect.

If it is true that people are staying home and saving their money — perhaps the thought is, “We might as well enjoy this house while we still have it” — it is likely to slow down the whole economy. And at a time when most of the business and financial world, along with at least 40 of the 50 state governments, are banking on a quick economic recovery, that prospect is bound to lead some to take a second look at the budget.