Thursday, July 10, 2003

You've already read the stories about US unemployment claims rising yet again to their highest absolute level in 20 years. What you may not have seen is the retail sales reports out today as well, a key marker of the US consumers ability to buy all the crap s/he can amass and thus keep the overproduction engine in high gear.

Same store sales 22-week results as of July 4/5:
  • The Gap: +11%
  • Wal-Mart: +2.5%
  • Limited Brands, Inc.: +1.0%
  • Target: +0.3%
  • TJX: no change
  • JCPenny: -2.5%
  • Saks: -2.7%
  • Federated Department Stores: -3.6%
  • Sears: -4.7%
  • Dillard's: -5.0%
  • May Co.: -7.2%

Now consumer spending is beginning to look a bit dicy. Sure ultra-cheap Wal-Mart continues to chug along, but even giants like Target are at a standstill (a combination of low growth at Target and big drops at Mervyns) and the department stores are looking downright ill.

Or perhaps the US economy will be saved by Middle Americans in the near future all looking like this?

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