Recession over? Some Carytown businesses still suffering

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - New economic numbers that came out on Thursday show the economy is looking at it's biggest boost in the last two years. The Gross Domestic Product is up at a 3.5 percent annual rate.

If you take a walk through Carytown, the opinions are mixed among merchants, asking if this good economic news is hitting home in their businesses.

Wall Street may say the recession is over. But don't tell that to Jill LaPrad of Jeweler's Services.

"I don't think the recession is over. I think people are being cautious about their money and how they spend it," LaPrad said.

She says there's plenty of foot traffic, but compared to last year, actual sales are only up slightly. "They'll look at it and say, 'Oh, that's a pretty piece. I'd like to have that.' But, they won't buy it."

Just down the street at Road Runner Running Store, things are different. The impact of the tough economy is not as bad for Thom Suddeth.

"Our sales are up a little bit. We're not making big increases in the numbers, but our sales are good," Suddeth said.

In fact, October is such a good month for Thom, sales are likely to be up double digits compared to 2008.

"My heart goes out to people who's numbers are down. We've been very fortunate," Suddeth said.

Thom is not alone. Local economist David Brat tells us some sectors like housing are also growing, but the reality is this: "The numbers may be there, but the consumer is still in debt, businesses aren't lending like they were a year and a half ago."

"People are still upside down in their mortgages and the engine of the economy is not roaring," he added.

Brat says, despite the government's positive new numbers, the economy is likely to lose some steam in the coming months.

"Any shakes that hit this economy, and it's over," Brat said.

But for now, momentum may be on the side of the business owners.

"Give positive data, people get a little excited and they will start spending money," Suddeth said.

The hope in Carytown is the sidewalks will fill up and the good economic news will continue, especially as we head into the holiday season.

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