Can garage sales tell you something about the economy?

Jan Swift's weekend ritual begins Thursday with the classified ads and some Internet searches to find all the garage sales in the Tri-Cities.

Then she highlights her route and planned stops on a map.

It's a routine the avid garage-sale enthusiast has been doing for years. But this year, the retiree has had to change her game plan.

"Everything in the Tri-Cities is so spread out that it takes too much gas, so I really just focus on one area -- generally in Richland," she said.

Higher gas prices and tighter budgets appear to be having several interesting effects on garage sales.

Although no statistics are available for garage sales, it appears that more folks are staging them to put extra change in their pockets, but fewer are actually attending them, garage sale regulars say.

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