Low-, high-end stores hopping, but malls getting pinched. What's it mean?

The Post and Courier's has a story up about how ... well, here's what they say:
On what was expected to be the biggest shopping day of the holiday season, local malls were relatively quiet Saturday, lacking an upbeat Christmas feel.

They also mention that folks are waiting for bigger discounts and that places like Wal-Mart are hopping, as were the Tanger Outlets today.

Go check out the whole story.

But, The State muses in some different directions about the situation up in Columbia:
[Ann McMillian, owner of Ann’s Fashions and Accessories,] thinks customers might be heading to the larger department stores where merchandise is advertised at 60 percent to 70 percent off.

“Small stores like me, we can’t do that,” she said.

But [Richard Clodfelter, retail professor at the University of South Carolina,] said the department stores — along with restaurants and car dealers — are being hit the hardest. He said they are being squeezed by local retailers who can offer more personal service and product knowledge and discount merchandise stores such as Target.

There was a lot of crowing this year that Black Friday sales would be dismal, but that turned out to not be so.

It's an interesting duality. On one hand the higher-end businesses on King Street seem to be doing well, as are low end stores, while middle-of-the-road stores are getting pinched.

A symptom of the middle class feeling the most economic squeeze? Or just a symptom of the lovely weather? But any way you slice it, something's up.

It's hard to know for sure, but it's something we'll be chatting about on our next DigiCast with guest speaker Andy Owens, managing editor of the Charleston Regional Business Journal. -- That will be release Wednesday, December 24.