We seem to be driving retailers nuts this holiday season.
Last week, on what supposedly is the biggest shopping day of the season, we came, we saw and we demurred, the National Retail Federation reported. Crowds were up, sales weren't. The mixed messages continue this week. Electronics and jewelry sales are up from a year ago, reports MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, but sales of clothing and luxury goods are trailing.
Maybe we are shopping for stuff that is easier to pawn, just in case. Or maybe we really are being more frugal than we were accustomed to before 2008, suggests Creditcard.com's Allie Johnson, who has been tracking some conflicting signals.
Home cooking is suddenly chic again, say the Nielsen ratings people who track supermarket and restaurant sales and bunches of other things in addition to television ratings. And vacations, major home improvements and other easy to cut purchases have been taking hits all year, writes Michael Kahn of Chief Marketer.
So how serious are consumers about living more frugally? Economic consultant Bill Conerly predicts we'll start opening our wallets again when a little more time passes, but not as freely as before the recession. CNBC's Christina Cheddar Berk says it is more likely we'll get something nice for Christmas and then return to hibernation.
I know I may be heading to the mall more often as winter sets in. It's a good place to walk when the wind chill reads like sales reports.