So my friend walks into a restaurant recently to have a late lunch with her daughter.
It's a glorious summer day but there are just a few tables newly occupied on the patio and most of the tables inside are empty.
"It will be a 15 minute wait for the patio," she is told by the hostess.
Somewhat confused by the fact that there will be a wait at all considering the low number of tables she nevertheless says no problem that the two of them, up for a few days from Vancouver, will eat inside.
"There's a wait for inside as well," she is told somewhat sheepishly.
At this point my friend tells me she has to laugh.
"But you are nearly empty," she says.
"We only have one server right now," the hostess replied apologetically.
Symptom or consequence?
It is interesting to note that there are a significant number of ads right now in Pique for servers in the resort.
Are businesses running lean as Whistler copes with a wet beginning to the summer? Are the young workers we rely on for these types of jobs forsaking the town and heading home, or to Vancouver looking for more stability in their jobs? And what does this pattern say about the ramp-up we know is around the corner for this year's winter season?
It is no surprise that everyone is coping with uncertainty right now in business. That's nothing new.
But the uncertainties we are dealing with are tangled in a web so complicated it is hard to see a way forward that does not strain the complex.
This goes far beyond the impossibility of predicting visitor numbers to Whistler. After all, with late-booking trends, the travellers' insatiable search for good deals and the vagrancies of the weather one may as well rely on a crystal ball for that.
I know the resort partners are diligent at surveying and statistics can be useful and revealing, but there is no getting away from the fickle nature of today's traveller.
Now added to this is the "new" uncertainty we face thanks to the down-grading of the U.S.'s credit rating from AAA to AA+ by rating agency Standard & Poor's. Though not unexpected, the recent announcement caused serious tremors through the TSX, which suffered its worst fall in nearly a year before starting to re-bound.
"Uncertainty is never good for markets or for the economy," said Sherry Cooper, chief economist at Bank of Montreal, in a research note. "This, in combination with what will inevitably be meaningful fiscal contraction over the next year and beyond, reduces the growth trajectory for the U.S. economy."
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