The Jefferson Iowa News®


  Difficult to Determine Recession's Effect on Jefferson

While most of the nation's businesses and industries have been decidedly hard-hit by 2008's slumping economy, Jefferson Iowa News staff are still unable to determine if Jefferson, Iowa has been affected by widespread recession.

Our analysts, observing two dozen locations community-wide, cited large quantities of unturned merchandise and a lack of future orders as evidence that Jefferson retailers have either been devastated by the economic downturn, or are simply carrying on as usual.

For instance, in one business, nearly half of the sales floor's fluorescent lights appeared to be burned out. Normally this would indicate trouble within the business. However, we were told that this condition has existed in this particular outlet for several years. Furthermore, all of the busted-up glassware in aisle six may be a sign of impending bankruptcy, or maybe they're doing just fine.

People observed rummaging through the dumpster out back may indicate that the recession is hitting the area hard, or possibly this is a normal occurrence. We actually witnessed several instances of shoplifting, but once again cannot be sure if this was out of the ordinary.

Our staff was repeatedly denied access to the financial records of local merchants, although at one location we were provided with a water-stained folder full of hand-written receipts.

At one store, we were told that absolutely no new merchandise has been ordered for several weeks. This would seem to indicate that sales have been somewhat less than desired. However, a store employee stated that local customers do not normally shop for new merchandise, and prefer vintage, out-of-date goods.

We observed only one checkout lane operating in most stores, and speculated that merchants could no longer afford to hire employees. However, our two-week study turned up evidence of a workforce, including the sighting of three folded shirts and a number of employees smoking in the break room.

Our analysis of the workforce remained incomplete, as we were unsure of who was an employee and who was not, although one female told us to "get the hell out of the way".

 Spencer Straight, 01-22-2009