You would be forgiven for thinking that there is a boom instead of a bust if you happened to visit a shopping mall lately.

Yesterday we went to the Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne. There were crowds everywhere and it was hard to find a parking spot. People were buying lots of stuff and it looked just like the day before Christmas.

This shopping frenzy could be the result of the stimulus package, but $900 doesn’t go so far as to explain why people are buying and buying. One store was going out of business and had a half-price sale but even at half the price their handbags were well over $200.

I did notice that the other expensive boutiques were fairly empty, but then they usually are. And the crowds weren’t merely window shopping either. People were carrying branded shopping bags full of purchases.

So what’s the explanation? Stimulus package? Partly. Actually, I think that it’s because one keeps on shopping as long as one is employed. It’s the “She’ll be right, mate” attitude of Australians. They seem to be more optimistic and relaxed than the Americans or Brits, for example, who aren’t spending because their recession has hit them harder and earlier.

It will be interesting to see what happens when serious unemployment hits home next year. It does appear as if we live in a country of Lotus Eaters. For now, anyway.

I hope the trend continues because I’ve always believed that economic viability is greatly influenced by confidence. And from what I can see we have plenty of that.


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