Florsheim mens shoes are reasonably classy. They were imortalised, for example, by snappily dressed Jack Nicholson in Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown“. He was rather distressed, film buffs will recall, by what a flood drainage canal did to them.

So it was something of a sign of the times last week that a visitor to a normally genteel Florsheim shoe shop in a Maryland mall got the hard sell from two salesman. Simply popping in to ask a question, our hero was essentially told — firmly — that he could not afford to leave without purchasing some footwear. The price was right, he was told.

No shoes were purchased, as it happens, but the pitch was nonetheless enlightening as a sign of desperation. The mall was relatively empty, despite cut down sales at nearly every shop. Very few people were buying, judging by the shopping bags. Sales staff everywhere looked pretty lonely.

Purely subjectively, but there were no signs at this particular mall of a seasonal spurt to spending in the world’s leading economy.