Attitudes from the Editor
We had a positive CES: end-of-year inventories were low, buyers are still willing to buy, but we are not out of the woods yet with this economy.
The chickens are coming home to roost, profit-wise—in our industry and beyond. Volume was decent in December, but how much did we net? Enron's collapse and Kmart's bankruptcy sure as heck didn't help the financial health of the general economy and our industry.
Lenders and insurers are twitchier than ever. So are publicly owned companies looking to trim their costs. We are now treating employees like they were inventory—reduce what's in-house, add/cut as needed. These most recent layoffs are happening beneath the mass media radar. In a late January Monday morning meeting, I asked who among us knew someone to have been laid off after Christmas, and three out of four people raised their hands. The general sentiment among the group was that more layoffs are coming. What do you think this type of atmosphere is doing to consumer spending? The holiday afterglow is wearing off, reality setting in.