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Business Insider

Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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The eye can lie when we’re trying to spot trends

THE NAKED EYE has a hard time determining business trends.

That’s a thought I had during a recent conversation with a local banker. He noted that a Richmond shopping center he’d been at seemed pretty crowded, and perhaps that was a sign the economy was improving.

That’s possible, and certainly hopeful. But let’s take a look at what the eye can tell you about shopping trends.

Let’s say that two years ago at the same time there were 1,000 people out at that Richmond shopping center. If the number dropped just 3 percent, there would still be 970 people. The naked eye isn’t going to pick up that subtle difference, but a 3 percent decline isn’t positive news for retailers.

Click here to read this week’s full Business Browser column.