The Mind Of A Shopper

Why we're filling the malls even as backbreaking energy costs and other ills shrink our spending power

After 28 years as a flight attendant, the last few of which brought pay cuts totaling 30%, John Battelli decided it was time to move on. So last week he quit U.S. Airways--with an uncertain pension, mounting credit-card debt and hopes of growing his fledgling personal-trainer business. "My fear is that my ability to earn has fallen by the wayside," says Battelli, 53, of Westminster, Colo. As Christmas approaches, all that weighs heavily. "Come hell or high water," he says, "I'm going to make sure my children have the same holiday magic that I had as a child." He'll pay for...

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