Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Palm Beach Economy (from my perspective)

I am still in Palm Beach at a law conference and spent part of the day walking around the shopping areas where things look pretty dead. There were only a few people in each of the stores around Worth Avenue and sales didn't look too promising. Of course, part of this might be because it is summer and many New Yorkers and others flee the area due to the heat, though from what I've heard, this might have been a mistake. There is also a lot of construction going on in front of the store fronts on Worth Avenue that may leave people deciding not to go to this particular shopping district (and it is rather expensive). A saleswoman told me that the construction is to widen the streets and the plan is to have more outdoor activities and seating to bring in more traffic to this area. So, eventually, the construction may be a good thing (or it may just draw more people to a free or cheap activity).

The restaurants with specials seemed to be more crowded then those without them. I went to an adorable cafe in a hotel with a three course meal for $20.00 that was delightful and full (though the maƮtre d looked askance at my shorts and t-shirt but allowed me and my guest in). In another dinner place, we were almost the only ones there. At one of the local malls, the free outdoor concert was jammed but people did not seem to be going into the stores to buy things. However, the Cheesecake Factory (a chain) was packed. The emptiness of the stores and some restaurants here made me think of a recent trip to DC where most restaurants and shops seemed to be booming. I often think of all the tax payer money that is going to fund these federal "fat cats." If you have been in either of these areas recently, what was your take on the economies there?

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11 Comments:

Blogger Cham said...

If stores are empty then perhaps the shopkeeper might want to think about the prices and the product offering. Nothing short of a snowstorm will take out a business district faster than construction, customers don't like traffic snarls, dust and negotiating upended sidewalks. The shopping district is smart, hosting a free concert. Some bands will play for free as long as they get to sell their music and teeshirts. This brings people to an area, I don't see why this isn't done more. If you visit DC right now you won't find that many people there, it's very hot and people are indoors enjoying the air conditioning.

8:29 AM, August 02, 2010  
Blogger David said...

"a recent trip to DC where most restaurants and shops seemed to be booming"...indeed. See my post paying higher taxes can be very profitable.

7:47 AM, August 05, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

Helen, if you come to my town you can wear shorts and a T shirt any time you like.

9:32 AM, August 05, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

On shopping construction: when I was in graduate school there was a tiny strip mall across the street from the campus property line. Nice place, lots of interesting shops and a quaint, 70's feel to it.

Well, they decided it wasn't good enough so TPTB tore up ALL the parking pavement and fenced the place in. You had to park way at the back of the strip mall.
A couple of places I frequented still got my business, but my browsing days ended. I wasn't about to trudge through dust and chain link fences to check places out.

When it got done, it wasn't even that much better - all they added were some boulevards with shrubbery. It took anywhere between three and six months to finish the work (don't quite recall) and by then some of the more vulnerable shops had been forced to close.

Thanks, mall supervisors. So incredibly stupid.

9:37 AM, August 05, 2010  
Blogger LPF said...

It's August in DC. The bars and restaurants are now empty as the politicos have left town since congress will be on break most of the month. I was at one of my fave Capitol Hill hangouts last night. At a restaurant/bar where most nights there's standing room only... there were only 4 people at the bar, and two occupied tables. Real people are feeling it, even in DC.

12:25 PM, August 05, 2010  
Blogger DADvocate said...

In downtown Cincinnati, a shop or restaurant closing isn't that unusual. Another one will snap of the spot and open But, noone is snapping up the spots now.

One place, a once popular bar where Chelsea Clinton campaigned for Hillary, has been empty for close to a year.

1:26 PM, August 05, 2010  
Blogger TMS said...

I live in Palm Beach County, and here are a couple of thoughts:

- It's difficult to judge this economy by what is going on in August, especially a place like Worth Avenue. A few decades ago, most of those shops were closed in the summer. For example, the crew from Saks used to work in Palm Beach in the winter, and in the Hamptons in the summer. The shops are open year round now, but most of their business is generated in the winter.

-The dining specials offered by the restaurants on Palm Beach are a real treat, a great way for many of us to experience fine dining at a reasonable price.

- The other shopping area you discussed I presume is City Place in West Palm. It has had it's share of problems. There was another area several miles away that was considered the downtown area back in the 90s, and it was thriving. But then the city put a lot of money into City Place, and all of a sudden there were two downtown areas, in a city that could really only support one, and both areas suffered. It was a great example of the unintended consequence of government planning. It is taking lots of time, but both areas seem to be working through these problems.

- That being said, the economy in Palm Beach county is not in great shape. The house price declines here were especially severe. So much of the economy had become centered on real estate, and that all blew up. It is taking some time to work through this.

And over on Palm Beach, the Madoff scandal did and continues to have an impact.

Hope that helps.

9:34 AM, August 06, 2010  
Blogger Helen said...

TMS,

Thanks for the info, it was helpful.

10:19 AM, August 06, 2010  
Blogger Andrew said...

Palm Beach summers are always dead. Season is winter. The construction on Worth Ave is indeed annoying and my favorite watering hole, Tabu, is hard to get to. Once the construction is done and the cooler weather arrives, Worth Ave will be all hustle and bustle again.

People in Palm Beach are indeed being more careful with their dollars but they continue to spend, regardless.

As for West Palm Beach, that's a different story.

Enjoy your stay in the Sunshine State and stay out of the sun, it'll roast your skin in a skinny minute!

2:38 PM, August 06, 2010  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I heard the Mediterranean coast in Spain recently got an economic infusion.

11:25 AM, August 07, 2010  
Blogger TMink said...

We just returned from an excursion through the southland. Biloxi is dead. Nobody there. No oil. Too many jellyfish though. There were not even any cars in the parking lots of the casinos. Last year at the same time we were surrounded by people.

More and more empty storefronts dot the landscape in Covington and Mandeville, Louisiana. We gave up trying to fing a replacement burner for the oven as every place we called was out of business. My cousin though he would have to cross the lake to Metarie or go to Slidell for the part.

On the drive to Sherveport, the little towns had lots of produce for sale and plenty of garage sales, but the buildings in the towns were mostly for rent or even abandoned. Same for the little towns between Shreveport and Nashville.

America is in serious economic decline.

Trey

7:17 PM, August 08, 2010  

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