I didn't want to irresponsibly speculate that the country is heading for a deep recession based on a single trip to the mall, but since Kevin Drum's the very model of sober-minded blogging, I'll quote him on holiday sales:
As for myself, I have no data to offer on holiday sales, but I do have an anecdote. I went out to a gigantic new local shopping center today and business was.....normal. I had no trouble parking, no trouble walking right into the movie theater (Charlie Wilson's War, flawed but still lots of fun), and the crowds at Borders, Best Buy, and Whole Foods seemed about like normal Saturday levels.
The Saturday before Christmas, I found myself through poor planning driving past a whole bunch of exurban Virginia shopping centers and, similar, things looked distinctly uncrowded. Not empty by any means, but very calm for a Saturday -- to say nothing of a pre-Christmas Saturday. There were also tons and tons and tons of half-sold new developments standing around along with a bunch of half-built ones that I suspect may not actually be completed for some time.