Three words describe business at Capital Confections where the mood is as dark as the chocolates behind the display case.
"Horrible, horrible and horrible," said owner Teresa Higgins.
Her industry's mantra: chocolate is recession-proof. But quiet days and fewer customers are telling Higgins otherwise.
People are placing fewer special orders for the parties and weddings that are such an important part of Higgins' business in Town & Country Village. Counter sales are shrinking. July was the slowest month she's had in her 12 years as owner and she worries how she'll fare during the winter holidays.
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"Christmas is what we survive on. I'm counting on Christmas and I'm asking, 'Can I even count on Christmas?' "
Wall Street's collapse has only intensified consumers' unease heading into the fall and retailers will have to double their efforts to drive traffic into their stores, analysts say.
"People are under a lot of economic pressure for a number of reasons. There's a fear factor," said Diane Crispell of New York-based GfK Custom Research.
It's being felt on Main Street, USA, and on busy Fulton Avenue.
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