Busker Tom Woodward is a good barometer of the state of the economy. When spending gets easier, his income goes up; when belts are tightened, his tin gets empty.
And it's on empty at the moment.
"I don't make any money, which makes you think it's because the economy sucks," he said in between breaks on his amplified acoustic guitar in the shopping centre in Dickson.
No money coming in despite his obvious skill means no money to go out: he's living in a car at the moment but that evening he was on his way to look at a van.
In invisible Canberra, that counts as a step up the property ladder.
He's been busking since 1994. He comes and goes, sometimes alternating between the city and the South Coast. At the north end, he's seen change.
"It's got a lot worse in Canberra. I used to busk in Canberra ten years ago but now there's a rental crisis. There's people living in tents," he said.
And recently, people have become less generous as the economy has tilted the wrong way.
As a busker, he now notices a reluctance. Buskers are just one of the groups of people with hats out. He doesn't blame people for not giving. "There's so many people asking for money but there's only so many people during the day you can give money to."
A similar picture of people holding tighter on to their money comes from the Trove shop around the corner.
It's a cooperative made up of about 20 artists and craftspeople selling their creations. Inke Falkner's specialty is wooden objects like the long, dangling ear-rings she wears behind the counter.
"It's pretty quiet," she said. "We definitely have less people coming into the store.
"A lot of people are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
What about 2024, though? Optimistic or pessimistic?
She is of a naturally good humour, and has a smile to warm any economy, so she is loathe to say she's actually pessimistic: "I'm not pessimistic but I'm not super-optimistic either. I'm hoping for the best."
Next door is definitely pessimistic.
Proprietor Per Christensen lists a string of woes stemming from longer-term factors, like what he says is the cut-back in parking at the Dickson shopping centre. Fewer car-park spots means fewer customers in his Centrepiece store, he said.
He does not have a good word for what he calls "the council" by which he means the ACT government.
But on the immediate economic prospects, he said that customers were moving down in price. "When they once wanted to buy a birthday present for $80, now it's $50," he said.
He makes glass ornaments and jewellery so he absorbs lower customer spending as lower profits. He has lowered costs. "We are not making products that cost hundreds of dollars. Now, it's $60 to $80."
"I think it's going to be a disaster."
At this present-buying time of the year, his shop would normally be much busier, he said. "Compared to last year, it's zero."
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