We now know that the Retail Apocalypse took another trip downhill during the all-important holiday season. December reports show retail sales declined more in one month than they have since … the Great Recession. Notice what a common refrain that comparison has become.
Retail Apocalypse snowballs downhill
Retail sales dropped 1.2% month-over-month in December, the largest drop since September 2009, according to data from the Census Bureau released Thursday. The dip was broadly unexpected – consensus estimates had foreseen a 0.1% increase in retail sales for the month, according to Bloomberg data. Excluding autos and gas, which can be volatile, core retail sales plunged 1.8%. “[The] fall in retail sales in December was every bit as bad as it looks,” Capital Economics’ Michael Pearce said bluntly. The weakness was broad-based.
Yahoo!The plunge in data was so severe and unexpected by many that some question the Census Bureau’s credibility; but other big financial institutions are revising their outlooks substantially based on the data:
“On the back of this morning’s data… our 4Q real GDP tracking estimate likewise took a big hit, down to 3.1% from 3.7%,” Morgan Stanley’s Ellen Zentner wrote. “The report also has negative implications for consumption growth in the first quarter… Based on this morning’s results, we estimate that 1Q GDP tracking could come in as low as 1%.”The data does fit with ongoing bankruptcies of brick-and-mortar stores:
The decline of brick-and-mortar stores isn’t expected to slow down, according to a new report. Coresight Research released an outlook of 2019 store closures Wednesday, saying there’s “no light at the end of the tunnel….” Six weeks into 2019, U.S. retailers have announced 2,187 closings, up 23 percent compared to last year. Those closings include 749 Gymboree stores, 251 Shopko stores and 94 Charlotte Russe locations…. Bankruptcies also are continuing at a rapid pace “with the number of filings in the first six weeks of 2019 already at one-third of last year’s total,” the report states…. There’s “potentially many more (closings) on the way due to companies currently in the bankruptcy process and more on the horizon,” the report states.
USA TodayCarmageddon rolls downhill quickly, too
With that, let’s catch up on where the demise of the auto industry has gone since I said all of last year and the year before that it would continue to build momentum in 2018, due in large part to the Federal Reserve’s Great Recovery Rewind. Here is a quick play-by-play log like I gave for the housing market crash just to show how consistent this multi-car pile-up has been:
July, 2018: GM, Ford and Chrysler stocks all take major hits. MarketWatch reported Wolf Richter as noting that we hadn’t seen this kind of triple-punch since … the financial crisis of the Great Recession. Only this time, he noted, Carmageddon was happening during “good times.”