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It's the Economy, Moron

It's the Economy, Moron

No one shops till they drop anymore. That's because the only thing dropping these days is the economy. Yet you wouldn't know this from bus-stop billboards across the city advertising a film called Confessions of a Shopaholic. The movie, starring Isla Fisher, is based on one of British author Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic novels. Written during the go-go Tony Blair years, the book -- and this movie -- have suddenly been rendered archeological relics by the recession. (An added element of fantasy involves the notion that Fisher's character has a job working for a magazine -- you know, print.)

The point was italicized Sunday when Circuit City stores began their liquidation sales across L.A. County. Standing right next to one Sunset Boulevard Shopaholic billboard was a sign spinner advertising the sale -- "Up to 30% Off!" -- that was happening down the street at the Silver Lake Circuit City. The familiar silhouette of the red-walled store was draped with a huge Going Out of Business banner. A line of hopeful shoppers stretched the entire length of the huge building. The people, who conversed quietly in Spanish, English, Tagalog and Vietnamese, were orderly as small groups of people were permitted inside every 10 minutes.


"Why can't this one be like the Burbank Circuit City?" a woman asked. "There's no line of people having to stand outside there."

"They should have everything 100 percent

off," said another. (I can remember when that was the case with this

particular outlet -- on the first afternoon of the 1992 riots, when

people came running out of the store's shattered glass doors carrying

loot.)

Circuit City is not likely to be the last casualty. 

"Right now it's extremely difficult if you're the second, third or fourth company in a type of chain," says Jack Kyser of the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation. "Even Walmart is going into a slowdown."

When

a store giant like Circuit City goes bankrupt, it's not just the

employees, investors and suppliers who suffer. In a mushy commercial

real estate environment, it'll be difficult to sell vacant big-box

store buildings.

"That's a huge problem that's going to get

worst," says Kyser, noting that the effect is magnified when the failed

big box anchors a shopping mall.

"I've heard there's a mall on the Westside with a Circuit City and a

Linens 'n Things," Kyser says, referring to the bed and bank outlet

that has also filed for bankruptcy. "A lot of people are discussing the

reality of weaker mall developments being torn down and the land

recycled."

The Circuit City line moved very slowly Sunday. One

saving grace on this hot afternoon was  that shoppers stood in the

building's shade. A block away the image of Isla Fisher, arms straining

with shopping bags, her mouth agape with the hunger for more, stared

out at Sunset Boulevard. Who said irony's dead?


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