At one of Raleigh's busiest retail areas, economic stress is not so obvious on the surface. But merchants said they have seen sales fall dramatically in the last year. However, they are starting to stabilize.
A manager at Swoozie's Specialty Gift Store re-stocked the shelves Wednesday after hearing the worst of the sales slump may be over.
"I was just at a merchants' meeting this morning and that was the consensus," Swoozie's Manager Donna Wilson said. "Everybody feels that things are starting to turn around."
Three doors down from Swoozie's, the owner of Main & Taylor Shoes said sales were down 25 to 30 percent just a few months ago. Now the fashions are deeply discounted and sales are steady.
"We're practically giving things away," said Archie Chinnis with Main & Taylor Shoes."We've been flat and flat is the new up. Customers actually coming in who would usually buy several pairs, maybe picking up one pair instead."
Other signs of the recession's end are also starting to surface.
Car dealers are jammed with customers wanting Cash For Clunkers rebates. Inventories are down so they want auto makers to make more cars.
Sales tax revenues are stabilizing, but the big question is jobs.
"The key area where most people interact with the economy is the job market," NC State Economist Professor Mike Walden said.
After some wrenching months when North Carolina lost tens of thousands of jobs, in June the state actually added jobs for the first time in a year.
"I'm still looking for the first of the year, 2010, before we start to see the job market improve considerably," Walden said.
Despite some upturns, real estate related industries are still hobbling.
The number of Triangle homes sold in June was down 21 percent from last year. Foreclosures are still high and empty store space is at a 12 year record.
Over the last year, North Carolina has lost about 227,000 jobs and regardless of the sales pace of homes, cars, or shoes.
Most economists sais it's going to take a long time to get those jobs back.