I was in Sydney on Saturday, and while there weren't exactly tumbleweeds rolling down George St, I thought there was a surprising absence of eager Christmas consumers, wallets at the ready, credit cards thrust forward in a mad desire to enter the New Year with a financial burden of significantly greater magnitude than good ol' 2011.
The woman in Dymocks didn't appear to notice, claiming it was as busy as ever, and that her coping mechanism for the Festy Season was 'smile and nod' which is good advice in most situations, from political leaders indicating their intention for your nation to invade the slightly smaller one to the north, to just about any and every domestic situation.
I wasn't convinced it was so busy, however. The vibe just wasn't there, and the number of sales and discounted items in various stores seemed to belie the economic vitality claimed by this single sales clerk. She was, after all, hardly a suitable statistical basis for any kind of survey, despite her position on the Christmas front line.
Down at the Quay (see previous post) it was kind of going off, but people were intent on filling their stomachs rather than their Christmas stockings. I thought, if the nation was indeed heading towards a financial slump, then perhaps we needed to find an alternate means to stimulate the economy. We needed to concentrate on our core strengths. No more spending on pink batts and school halls and other arcane paraphernalia, we needed to get the dollars going to tried and true spending sources.
Which means alcohol, of course. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in certain places at least, large quantities of Kevin Rudd's previous cash stimulii were certainly invested down at various locals. The alcohol led economic recovery is a no brainer, a sure fire winner not only guaranteed to increase employment in the service industries, but also by the virtues of flow on, to the law enforcement and health sectors as well.
The only significant issue that I can see, after a little bit of fieldwork, is how we can encourage people to drink more. Short of employing the kinds of devices used to ensure large volumes of high octane fuel flood directly into the bellies of voracious Formula 1 racing cars in under a nanosecond, I don't know if it's really possible to drink in greater amounts than Australians are currently imbibing. Possibly the economic salvation we seek is already at hand. Forget the mining boom and two speed economy. As the collective livers of Australia swell and distend, raise another glass and know you're doing your bit for the nation.