Say Bye to Stimulus-Check Spending

Well, they’re saying the stimulus checks are all spent.

Though we saw some boosts in July sales, particularly at discounters like Costco and Wal-Mart, apparel and department stores were both hammered by same-store sales plunges. We guess people were a little more interested in necessities than getting the newest handbag.

So we’re wondering what the future brings. If discount chains are the outfits that benefited from the stimulus checks in the first place, what will happen to their sales for the rest of the year, now that they’re gone?

Or were those handouts just a failed, over-hyped political solution that never had any impact in the first place?

13 Responses to “Say Bye to Stimulus-Check Spending”

  1. 1 Steven August 8, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Unfortunately, the stimulus checks were an over-hyped political solution. How can one gain/regain trust our government when they come out with a “solution” like this? Pathetic.

    Speaking of pathetic, Ian – I thought you were going to update your mugshot?! C’mon man!

  2. 2 GetReal August 8, 2008 at 8:50 am

    If people were smart, they would use the stimulus checks to pay down their household debt. That’s not good news for retailers, but do Americans really need another T-shirt or video game? People who really need things — like back to school clothing for growing kids — should watch the sales. There are good bargains to be found.

  3. 3 Husky Fan In New York August 8, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Yeah and Fauxbama wants to do another one…go figure!

  4. 4 James August 8, 2008 at 9:03 am

    I agree, the current Bush Admininistration seems entirely incapable of coming up with any real solutions. One of the tradegies created by 9/11 was that it cemented this bumbling idiot son in office and gave Mr. Cheney an opening to go fear mongering. Bush is on China’s case about human rights while running Guantanamo. China will inevitably become THE world super power, we need to develop sophisticated diplomacy and humility and soon.
    We put our check in the bank where it is losing value faster than the interest is accumulating!

  5. 5 A reader August 8, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Didn’t most people just use their stimulus checks to fill up their gas tanks this summer?

  6. 6 E August 8, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Honestly, I think the stimulus check spending thinking went out-of-mind of most people when it was announced.

    It was nice to get the check, but in terms of real impact, I’d say it was nominal. The money was already spoken before for most people even before the stimulus program was announced. And, people did spend it right away, as James already suggested — inflation is over 4%, and parking the money in a savings account is/was no alternative – 1% interest? Less, in many cases. Forget the banks.

    Nobody, not the government, the stores, the consumers are getting it — consumers are in debt up to their eyeballs, and retailers seem to be oblivious to it, praying/preying(?)that they just keep spending.

    You can’t spend what you don’t have as the saying goes, but we all seem to be experts at it.

  7. 7 Say so long but not bye August 8, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Say so long, but there will probably be a Stimulus Part 2. This time, buy products made in the good old USA. Go to for a helpful list. $250billion in a trade deficit to China is no way to pave national security for the USA. Many benefited here with the McMansions they were able to sign up for, but remember, signing up for a loan and paying off a loan are two entirely different things. Be Frugal! Support Personal Security and Fiscal Responsibility! Support National Security and National Fiscal Responsibility!

  8. 8 joshua August 8, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    It was a complete failure and anyone with common sense could see that coming. and what makes it even more shameful is when there are single mothers you get a $300 check instead of the $900 promised under the plan because of some “technicality” that the tax preparer didn’t foresee.

    Our country has turned into a bunch of people who dont want to take responsibility if they can get a handout and who do not take a vested interest in solving problems.

  9. 9 The difference between now and the 70's August 8, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    To J: I see your point about people not wanting to take responsibility these days or not wanting to be involved in solving problems, and I generally agree.
    I would say that the current generation has faced fewer leisure hours, less job stability, frequent relocations, fewer personal relations with friends and colleagues, frequent employer layoffs, and fewer vacation days than their parents. Many educated, informed people lie dormant in their ability to effect the system, as they are merely sustaining their livelihood and juggling their lives.
    Unfortunately, the system that has arisen from our democratic, capitalistic structure has its achilles heel. Certain societal impacts have resulted from our boom and bust lax money supply policies. The fallout is ongoing and the magnitude of the result of it is unseen. But the next decade will make or break us.

  10. 10 Served its Purpose, somewhat August 8, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    The discounters sales will either stay flat or increase slightly with the end of the stimulus checks. Many middle class people who were, traditionally, more aspirational in their consumption patterns, have become more cost conscious and they added to the discounters’ sales tills this summer after receiving their stimulus checks.
    Electronics, restaurants, and apparel (the regular consumption trio) received slight benefits from the stimulus checks, as well.
    If nothing else, the stimulus checks alleviated the jolt of fear and freeze that could have spread throughout the economy (like a federal economic shock absorber) during these uncertain times, so the government wasn’t as far off the mark as some would like to think.
    However, most of the benefits of the stimulus checks fell to those who least needed the benefits (Walmart, Target, Costco), in terms of retailing. On the other hand, even if consumers socked away the money in the bank, that action eventually shored up the banks capital, which is also a good thing. Additionally, if consumers paid down their debt, that helped personal indebtedness.
    In terms of the long term, continous borrowing by the government to subsidize such stimulous spending is precarious and leads to currency devaluation. Remember, currency devaluation during the Weimar Republic in the 1930’s Germany led to social instability and the rise of facism, militarism and WWII. So let’s not forget the long term while we make our short term reparations.

  11. 11 MikeF August 12, 2008 at 8:07 am

    How about a “Debt Paydown” Stimulus Program. The long term effects would certainly be matched by short term gains. Imagine your $125 a month credit card debt payment eliminated by the government paying off your $5,000 balance. It’s like killing 2 birds with one stone. More money in Americans pockets each month to pay for luxury items, and less debt. Oh wait, we can’t control ourselves, so we’d just rack the same debt up again in months and be in the same boat. Oh well, I guess the government really can’t solve all of our problems. Maybe there is something to that whole personal accountability thing.

  12. 12 Go China! August 12, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    So, if Walmart made out the best on the stimulus checks, and if 70% of Walmart’s products are from China, then China made out on the stimulus checks from the US Government. Now that’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, for sure.

  13. 13 RayMan August 12, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Americans believe in the quick fix, like medicine that stops the cough but leaves the pneumonia intact.

    Stimulus checks assume that a primed pump will continue to run thereafter; the problem is what runs the thereafter, more debt?

    We need national wealth creation that is not based on commissioning on goods made elsewhere. Anybody out there have an American made TV?

    Blue collar industry will not return to pre-1970’s levels until American workers are competitive with third world labor, and the nation is willing to treat the environment like developing nations do.

    GM lost $15 billion last quarter, but now manufactures and sells more cars in China than in the US. Their Chinese operations have no legacy costs, pensions or organized labor to contend with, and purchases are for cash.

    Expect GM to file for bankruptcy protection in the states, finagle a bailout, and then have dealerships selling Chinese-made GM cars sometime soon. The conditions are ripe.

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