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Posted: 10/15/2002 3:40:25 PM EDT
Where's Gecko45 when you REALLY need him? ----------------------------------------- Washington-Area Malls Boost Security After Sniper October 15, 2002 03:55 PM ET WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington-area malls were hiring extra security guards in hopes of reassuring shoppers unnerved by the latest sniper attack, which threatens to dampen already dismal sales, retail experts said on Tuesday. Police said the shooting death of a woman outside a suburban Virginia store of Home Depot Inc. on Monday evening appeared to be the work of a sniper who has killed eight other people at random over the last two weeks. Several were killed at gas stations or shopping areas. "It has a tremendous impact in the local area, but it also gives people across the nation pause to think about the fragility of life," said Eugene Fram, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology who studies shopping trends. "It's a question of consumer confidence. We have basics that we need to buy, but I think this will accelerate what has been the trend for 20 years, which is to put shopping at a lower priority," he said. So far the sniper fear factor appeared to have only a regional effect on shopping trends, with mall owners reporting a dip in traffic at Washington-area centers. "We don't routinely track traffic on a daily basis at our properties, but mall traffic (in the D.C. area) has understandably been affected," said Les Morris, spokesman for Simon Property Group Inc., the largest U.S. mall operator, which has four in the Washington area. Jackie Young, marketing director for Mills Corp.'s Potomac Mills shopping center in Prince William, Virginia, said the mall had tightened security since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States and also has a local police substation. Consumer confidence has been flagging in recent months -- and with it retail sales -- as a slumping economy, slow job growth and the threat of war rattle shoppers. That could put more pressure on the broader U.S. economy if consumer spending, which accounts for some two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, does not improve through the critical holiday shopping season. Retailers reported lackluster September sales figures last week. Early indications for October looked marginally better as the first cold snap of the season spurred sales, but analysts widely expect a tough holiday season. The sniper threat only compounds the problem, said Scott Krugman, spokesman for National Retail Federation, a trade association based in Washington. "Consumers are extra, extra, extra cautious," he said. "That said, this isn't anything new to them. This is very similar to what we went through post-Sept. 11, when those mock threats were coming through about possible attacks in shopping malls. I don't think consumers are going to stop what they do day to day. You can't live your life in fear and that's a lesson we've learned over the last year." Ben Johnson, editor of the industry journal Shopping Center World, said the shootings had crimped tourism in the Washington area and that was clearly hitting malls in the area, but he said numbers would bounce back once police found the sniper. "It's like a switch. As soon as they catch this person you'll see a blip in confidence," he said.
Link Posted: 10/15/2002 3:52:58 PM EDT
And to think, we laughed at him. Turns out he was a visionary. Mall management better get him those G36's and night vision goggles he requested.
Link Posted: 10/15/2002 4:04:47 PM EDT
And look who's laughing now! We own the night. We own the aisles. We 0wnz shoplifters, %100 of the time. And we do it well. [url]www.mallninja.com[/url]
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