Normalcy equals Shopping
“Return to normalcy” translates into “return to the retail store” for many Americans but consumer spending remains light

September 19th, 2001

By Fhar Miess
The Alarm! Newspaper collective

In the aftermath of the deadly attacks on the World Trade Center towers and Pentagon on September 11th, countless local residents sought refuge from despair and sorrow under the roofs of area retail stores. Enormous crowds were reported at regional malls a few days after the tragedy and staff at Borders Books on Pacific Ave., noted a brief spike in the number of browsers after the initial shock of Tuesday’s tragedy wore off. “They just wanted to go out and watch a movie, maybe buy a book or a CD, just to sort of escape” the gravity of it, one worker said.

The interests of shoppers and browsers shifted dramatically as well. Staff could scarcely keep their newspapers in order with the number of people who came in to rifle through them for the latest news. There was a sudden demand for Nostradamus—who had predicted a scene evocative of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers—at nearly every bookstore in Santa Cruz, and the staff at most bookstores noted an increased demand for titles on Middle Eastern history and studies of Islam. Hugh Holden at Streetlight Records remarked that there was an increased interest in patriotic music which continues as of press time.

And the shift in interest was evident not just on the book and music racks, but on the bathroom walls. Political commentary in the bathroom stalls at Borders shifted from the usual anti-corporate rants to statements against military retaliation. These were in turn met with charges of “Traitor!” by subsequent lavatory pundits.

graffiti in the men’s room at Borders Books
underneath was written, "Look into American policy, find out who the real terrorists are."

But, as reported in the Wall Street Journal last week, for all the activity in retail stores after the attacks, few shoppers were actually dipping into their wallets, many feeling less confident due to reports of plummeting stock markets and heralds of recession.

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