Two things that seem especially noticeable when driving around the Chicago metro area are the amount of retail vacancies, and the poor physical conditions of the roads. Both are very visible testaments to this period of economic hardship.
Of course, it varies by location, but to generalize there is a lot of vacant retail space. It is growing more common for entire segments of malls to be vacant. Perhaps even more ominous is that for many existing retail locations and restaurants, traffic seems oddly low. For those stores and restaurants with such low traffic, one wonders how long they can stay operational.
With regard to the roadways, many are in drastic need of repair, with numerous potholes and other abnormalities including what I call “craters” (a vastly oversized pothole). It is not uncommon to find displaced chunks of concrete strewn on roadways. What is especially disconcerting is that historically, potholes would primarily form in the wintertime; now, many seem to be forming throughout the summer as well. Needless to say it will take a fair amount of time, money and effort to fix this segment of the area’s infrastructure.
I was tempted to take pictures of some of the vacant stores and dilapidated roadways mentioned above, but I am sure that others have seen much of the same regardless of where they live…
SPX at 896.42 as this post is written