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End the duopoly

Reopening the economy doesn’t necessarily mean people are opening wallets

Suzann Ordile spent her time and money on restaurants and entertainment before the coronavirus disrupted life in the Philadelphia region and across the world. In a typical week, the Newtown lawyer ordered takeout twice, saw a couple shows with her wife and dined near a theater in Princeton. She squeezed in a trip or two to small shops or big box stores. But Ordile slashed all that spending well before Gov. Tom Wolf shut down nonessential businesses in Pennsylvania. She hasn’t been inside a store since March 15. She stopped all takeout orders, canceled medical checkups and put travel plans on hold. And she won’t rush back to restaurants, retailers or theaters when they reopen. “Just risk-averse and really want to know safety protocols are truly safe and are being followed first,” said Ordile, 49, in describing her approach. It was spending by consumers such as Ordile that drove the U.S. economy before the pandemic crippled it. The collapse was highlighted again Friday, when federal data showed retail sales fell by a record 16.4% from March to April. That consumer spending, which used to make up more than two-thirds of economic output, doesn’t appear to start or stop based […]

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