Ordinarily I ask waiters, taxidrivers, retail clerks, etc. pretty much everywhere I go, “How’s business?” it’s often a good grassroots check on business.
Lately, however, I’ve gone “meta”. Instead of asking how business is, I ask them how many people lately have asked them how business is. Perhaps wrongly, i think this gives me a better read on sentiment, while the former approach was better for actuals, as it were.
The upshot: Vegas cabbies report that four out of five male passengers ask how business is. Women, not so much. A year ago both rarely asked.