Economy begins to Blossom

by Harold Shumacher

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In our backyard, the first signs of springs are appearing. Bright yellow and purple crocuses, slips of daffodils and the first forming buds of the dogwoods, cherry and azaleas. There is a sense of renewal and a new season to look forward to.

Several conversations over the past few days-with a variety of professionals-gives me a similar sense for the economy.

A well placed office broker conveyed that among his peers there’s a sense that we’ve reached the “bottom” as far as office deals go. His view-if you’re going to renew or extend your lease now is the time to do it as terms will never get any better.  That  observation is documented by several reported stories of large office users-legal and accounting firms and other professionals-actively pursuing new opportunities throughout metro Atlanta..

According to a well placed employee at Simon Properties,  monthly mall sales have been up  consistently since November of 2009 averaging two to three percent year to year improvements each month . While much of the activity is at the value end of the spectrum,  there is activity at the luxury end as well, mainly European companies looking at expansion opportunities in the United States.

Another acquaintance is the exclusive distributor for a factory specializing in the production of green colored glass products (think Pier One, Crate and Barrel.) After two years of slow sales, compounded by a declining dollar against the Euro, sales are on the uptick. Most of this is purchases being made in anticipation of the fall and winter holiday seasons.

Finally, a franchise packaging specialist is also reporting an increase in activity. Several small and medium sized companies are retaining his services to develop franchise packages, support materials and other documents needed to help potential franchisees expand.

Granted these are anecdotal in nature and the economy won’t truly turn around until unemployment begins to decline and people have a renewed sense of confidence but it’s nice to think that spring is in the air.

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