Did you know that the number of retail store closings in 2017 has already tripled the number from all of 2016? Last year, a total of 2,056 store locations were closed down, but this year more than 6,700 stores have been shut down so far. That absolutely shatters the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and yet nobody seems that concerned about it. In 2008, an all-time record 6,163 retail stores were shuttered, and we have already surpassed that mark by a very wide margin. We are facing an unprecedented retail apocalypse, and as you will see below, the number of retail store closings is actually supposed to be much higher next year.
Whenever the mainstream media reports on the retail apocalypse, they always try to put a positive spin on the story by blaming the growth of Amazon and other online retailers. And without a doubt that has had an impact, but at this point online shopping still accounts for less than 10 percent of total U.S. retail sales.
Look, Amazon didn’t just show up to the party. They have been around for many, many years and while it is true that they are growing, they still only account for a very small sliver of the overall retail pie.
So those that would like to explain away this retail apocalypse need to come up with a better explanation.
As I noted in the headline, there are 20 different major retail chains that have closed at least 50 stores so far this year. The following numbers originally come from Fox Business…
1. Abercrombie & Fitch: 60 stores 2. Aerosoles: 88 stores 3. American Apparel: 110 stores 4. BCBG: 118 stores 5. Bebe: 168 stores 6. The Children’s Place: hundreds of stores to be closed by 2020 7. CVS: 70 stores 8. Guess: 60 stores 9. Gymboree: 350 stores 10. HHgregg: 220 stores 11. J.Crew: 50 stores 12. JC Penney: 138 stores 13. The Limited: 250 stores 14. Macy’s: 68 stores 15. Michael Kors: 125 stores 16. Payless: 800 stores 17. RadioShack: more than 1,000 stores 18. Rue21: up to 400 stores 19. Sears/Kmart: more than 300 stores 20. Wet Seal: 171 stores
If the U.S. economy was really doing well, then why are all of these major retailers closing down locations?
Of course the truth is that the economy is not doing well. The U.S. economy has not grown by at least 3 percent in a single year since the middle of the Bush administration, and it isn’t going to happen this year either. Overall, the U.S. economy has grown by an average of just 1.33 percent over the last 10 years, and meanwhile U.S. stock prices are up about 250 percent since the end of the last recession. The stock market has become completely and utterly disconnected from economic reality, and yet many Americans still believe that it is an accurate barometer for the health of the economy.
I used to do a Black Friday article every year, but I have ended that tradition. Yes, there were still a few scuffles this year, but at this point the much bigger story is how poorly the retailers are doing.
And some analysts are already predicting that as many as 9,000 stores could be shut down in the United States in 2018.
Are we just going to keep blaming Amazon every time another retail chain goes belly up?
What we should really be focusing on is the fact that the “retail bubble” is starting to burst. In the aftermath of the last financial crisis, retailers went on an unprecedented debt binge, and now a lot of that debt is starting to go bad.
In fact, in a previous article I discussed the fact that “the amount of high-yield retail debt that will mature next year is approximately 19 times larger than the amount that matured this year”. This is going to have very serious implications on Wall Street, but very few people are really talking about this.
Most stores try to stay open through Christmas, but once the holiday season is over we will see another huge wave of store closings.
And as individual stores close down, this will put a lot of financial pressure on malls and shopping centers. Not too long ago, one report projected that up to 25 percent of all shopping malls in the entire nation could close down by 2022, but I tend to think that number is too optimistic.
The retail industry in the United States is dying, and the biggest reason for that is not Amazon.
Rather, the real reason why the retail industry is in so much trouble is because of the steady decline of the middle class. The gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is greater than ever, and we can clearly see the impact of this in the retail world.
Retailers that serve the very wealthy are generally doing well, and those that serve the other end of the food chain (such as dollar stores and Wal-Mart) are also doing okay.
But virtually all of the retailers that depend on middle class shoppers are really struggling, and this is going to continue for the foreseeable future.
Most American families are either living paycheck to paycheck or are close to that level, and these days U.S. consumers simply do not have much discretionary income to play around with. More hard working Americans are going to fall out of the middle class with each passing month, and that is extremely bad news for a retail industry that is literally falling apart right in front of our eyes.
If the economy is doing just fine, then why is homelessness at levels not seen “since the Great Depression” in major cities all over the country? If the U.S. economy was actually in good shape, we would expect that the number of people that are homeless would be going down or at least stabilizing. Instead, we have a growing national crisis on our hands. In fact, within the past two years “at least 10 cities or municipal regions in California, Oregon and Washington” have declared a state of emergency because the number of homeless is growing so rapidly.
Things are particularly bad in southern California, and this year the Midnight Mission will literally be feeding a small army of people that have nowhere to sleep at night…
Thanksgiving meals will be served to thousands of homeless and near-homeless individuals today on Skid Row and in Pasadena and Canoga Park amid calls for donations and volunteers for the rest of the year.
The Midnight Mission will serve Thanksgiving brunch to nearly 2,500 homeless and near-homeless men, women and children, according to Georgia Berkovich, its director of public affairs.
Overall, the Midnight Mission serves more than a million meals a year, and Berkovich says that homelessness hasn’t been this bad in southern California “since the Great Depression”…
Berkovich said the group has been serving nearly 1 million meals a year each year since 2013.
“We haven’t seen numbers like this since the Great Depression,” she said.
And of course the official numbers confirm what Berkovich is claiming. According to an article published earlier this year, the number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County has never been higher…
The number of homeless people in Los Angeles has jumped to a new record, as city officials grapple with a humanitarian crisis of proportions remarkable for a modern American metropolis.
Municipal leaders said that a recent count over several nights found 55,188 homeless people living in a survey region comprising most of Los Angeles County, up more than 25% from last year.
If the California economy is truly doing well, then why is this happening?
We see the same thing happening when we look at the east coast. Just check out these numbers from New York City…
In recent years the number of homeless people has grown. Whereas rents increased by 18% between 2005 and 2015, incomes rose by 5%. When Rudy Giuliani entered City Hall in 1994, 24,000 people lived in shelters. About 31,000 lived in them when Mike Bloomberg became mayor in 2002. When Bill de Blasio entered City Hall in 2014, 51,500 did. The number of homeless people now in shelters is around 63,000.
For New York, this is the highest that the homeless population has been since the Great Depression, and city leaders are trying to come up with a solution.
Housing prices are soaring here thanks to the tech industry, but the boom comes with a consequence: A surge in homelessness marked by 400 unauthorized tent camps in parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. The liberal city is trying to figure out what to do.
Are you noticing a theme?
Homelessness is at epidemic levels all over the U.S., and this crisis is getting worse with each passing day. Some communities are trying to care for their growing homeless populations, but others are simply trying to force them to go somewhere else. They are doing this by essentially making it illegal to be homeless. In some cities it is now a crime to engage in “public camping”, to “block a walkway” or to create any sort of “temporary structure for human habitation”. These laws specifically target the homeless, and they are very cruel.
Many of us tend to picture the homeless as mostly lazy older men that don’t want to work and that instead want to drink or do drugs all day.
But the truth is that women and children make up a significant percentage of the homeless. In fact, the number of homeless children in our country has increased by about 60 percent since the end of the last recession.
And there are thousands upon thousands of military veterans that are homeless. For example, a 34-year-old man named Johnny that served in the Marine Corps recently used his last 20 dollars to buy fuel for a woman that had run out of gas and was stranded along I-95 in Miami…
Pulled over on the side of I-95, McClure, 27, was approached by a homeless man named Johnny. She was apprehensive at first, but Johnny told her to get back into her car and to lock the doors while he walked to get her help. He went to a nearby gas station, used his last $20 fill a can and brought it back to fill up her car.
Grateful, but without a dollar to repay him, McClure promised she would come back with something.
In the weeks since, she’s returned to the spot along I-95 where Johnny stays with cash, snacks and Wawa gift cards. Each time she’s stopped by with her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, they’ve learned a bit more about Johnny’s story, and become humbled by his gratitude.
Deciding that they wanted to do even more for Johnny, they started a GoFundMe page for him and have since raised approximately $250,000.
So it looks like there is going to be a happy ending to Johnny’s story, but the truth is that more people are falling into homelessness with each passing day.
A record number of store closures — 6,735 — have already been announced this year. That’s more than triple the tally for 2016, according to Fung Global Retail and Technology, a retail think tank.
And there have been 620 bankruptcies in the sector so far this year, according to BankruptcyData.com, up 31% from the same period last year. Prominent names such as Toys R Us, Gymboree, Payless Shoes and RadioShack have all filed this year, and Sears Holdings (SHLD), which owns both the iconic Sears and Kmart chains, has warned there is “substantial doubt” it can remain in business.
Sadly, analysts are projecting that the number of store closings could be as high as 9,000 next year.
Yes, there are some areas of the country that are doing well right now, but there are many others that are not.
Let us always remember to have compassion on those that are struggling, because someday we may be the ones that end up needing some help.
Is the retail apocalypse in the United States about to go to a whole new level? That is a frightening thing to consider, because the truth is that things are already quite bad. We have already shattered the all-time record for store closings in a single year and we still have the rest of November and December to go. Unfortunately, it truly does appear that things will get even worse in 2018, because a tremendous amount of high-yield retail debt is coming due next year. In fact, Bloomberg is reporting that the amount of high-yield retail debt that will mature next year is approximately 19 times larger than the amount that matured this year…
Just $100 million of high-yield retail borrowings were set to mature this year, but that will increase to $1.9 billion in 2018, according to Fitch Ratings Inc. And from 2019 to 2025, it will balloon to an annual average of almost $5 billion. The amount of retail debt considered risky is also rising. Over the past year, high-yield bonds outstanding gained 20 percent, to $35 billion, and the industry’s leveraged loans are up 15 percent, to $152 billion, according to Bloomberg data.
Even worse, this will hit as a record $1 trillion in high-yield debt for all industries comes due over the next five years, according to Moody’s.
Can you say “debt bomb”?
For those of you that are not familiar with these concepts, high-yield debt is considered to be the riskiest form of debt. Retailers all over the nation went on a tremendous debt binge for years, and many of those loans never should have been made. Now that debt is going to start to come due, and many of these retailers simply will not be able to pay.
So how does that concern the rest of us?
Well, just like with the subprime mortgage meltdown, the “spillover” could potentially be enormous. Here is more from Bloomberg…
The debt coming due, along with America’s over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster. The spillover will likely flow far and wide across the U.S. economy. There will be displaced low-income workers, shrinking local tax bases and investor losses on stocks, bonds and real estate. If today is considered a retail apocalypse, then what’s coming next could truly be scary.
I have written extensively about Sears and other troubled retailers that definitely appear to be headed for zero. But one major retailer that is flying below the radar a little bit that you should keep an eye on is Target. For over a year, conservatives have been boycotting the retailer, and this boycott is really starting to take a toll…
Target has been desperately grasping at ideas to recover lost business, including remodeling existing stores and opening smaller stores, lowering prices, hiring more holiday staff and introducing a new home line from Chip and Joanna Gaines. But Target stock remains relatively stagnant, opening at 61.50 today—certainly nowhere near the mid-80s of April 2016, when the AFA boycott began.
And we must also keep in mind that we do not actually deserve the debt-fueled standard of living that we are currently enjoying. We are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and the only way we are able to do that is by going into unprecedented amounts of debt. The following comes from Egon von Greyerz…
Total US debt in 1913 was $39 billion. Today it is $70 trillion, up 1,800X. But that only tells part of the story. There were virtually no unfunded liabilities in 1913. Today they are $130 trillion. So adding the $70 trillion debt to the unfunded liabilities gives a total liability of $200 trillion.
In 1913 US debt to GDP was 150%. Today, including unfunded liabilities, the figure becomes almost 1,000%. This is the burden that ordinary Americans are responsible for, a burden that will break the US people and the US economy as well as the dollar.
The only possible way that the game can go on is to continue to grow our debt much faster than the overall economy is growing.
Of course that is completely unsustainable, and when this debt bubble finally bursts everything is going to collapse.
We don’t know exactly when the next great financial crisis is coming, but we do know that conditions are absolutely perfect for one to erupt. According to John Hussman, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see stock prices fall more than 60 percent from current levels…
At the root of Hussman’s pessimistic market view are stock valuations that look historically stretched by a handful of measures. According to his preferred valuation metric — the ratio of non-financial market cap to corporate gross value-added (Market Cap/GVA) — stocks are more expensive than they were in 1929 and 2000, periods that immediately preceded major market selloffs.
“US equity market valuations at the most offensive levels in history,” he wrote in his November monthly note. “We expect that more extreme valuations will only be met by more severe losses.”
Those losses won’t just include the 63% plunge referenced above — it’ll also be accompanied by a longer 10 to 12 year period over which the S&P 500 will fall, says Hussman.
A financial system that is based on a pyramid of debt will never be sustainable. As I discuss in my new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters”, the design of our current debt-based system is fundamentally flawed, and it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.
The borrower is the servant of the lender, and our current system is designed to create as much debt as possible. When it inevitably fails, we need to be ready to offer an alternative, because patching together our current system and trying to re-inflate the bubble is not a real solution.
If the U.S. economy is doing just fine, why have we already shattered the all-time record for retail store closings in a single year? Whenever I write about our “retail apocalypse”, many try to counter my arguments by pointing out the growing dominance of Amazon. And I certainly can’t deny that online shopping is on the rise, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of total U.S. retail sales. No, something bigger is happening in our economy, and it isn’t receiving nearly enough attention from the mainstream media.
Back in 2008, a plummeting economy absolutely devastated retailers and it resulted in an all-time record of 6,163 retail stores being closed that year.
So far in 2017, over 6,700 stores have been shut down and we still have nearly two months to go! The following comes from CNN…
More store closings have been announced in 2017 than any other year on record.
Since January 1, retailers have announced plans to shutter more than 6,700 stores in the U.S., according to Fung Global Retail & Technology, a retail think tank.
That beats the previous all-time high of 6,163 store closings, which hit in 2008 amid the financial meltdown, according to Credit Suisse (CS).
Just within the last week, we have learned that Sears is closing down another 60 stores, and Walgreens announced that it intends to close approximately 600 locations.
Housing prices are soaring here thanks to the tech industry, but the boom comes with a consequence: A surge in homelessness marked by 400 unauthorized tent camps in parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. The liberal city is trying to figure out what to do.
But I thought that the Seattle economy was doing so well.
San Diego now scrubs its sidewalks with bleach to counter a deadly hepatitis A outbreak. In Anaheim, 400 people sleep along a bike path in the shadow of Angel Stadium. Organizers in Portland lit incense at an outdoor food festival to cover up the stench of urine in a parking lot where vendors set up shop.
More than 3,500 retail stores are going to close all across America over the next few months as the worst retail downturn in U.S. history gets even deeper. Earlier this week, Sears shocked the world when it announced that there is “substantial doubt” that the company will be able to “continue as a going concern” much longer. In other words, Sears has announced that it is on the verge of imminent collapse. Meanwhile, Payless stunned the retail industry when it came out that they are preparing to file for bankruptcy. The “retail apocalypse” that I have been warning about is greatly accelerating, and many believe that this is one of the early warning signs that the economic collapse that is already going on in other parts of the globe will soon reach U.S. shores.
I have repeatedly warned my readers that “Sears is going to zero“, and now Sears is officially saying that it might actually happen. When you file official paperwork with the government that says there is “substantial doubt” that the company will survive, that means that the end is very near…
The company that operates Sears, the department store chain that dominated retail for decades, warned Tuesday that it faces “substantial doubt” about its ability to stay in business unless it can borrow more and tap cash from more of its assets.
“Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” Sears Holdings said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sears Holdings operates both Sears and Kmart stores.
In the wake of that statement, the price of Sears stock dipped 13.69% to $7.85 a share.
Personally, I am going to miss Sears very much. But of course the truth is that they simply cannot continue operating as they have been.
The company said it lost $607 million, or $5.67 per diluted share, during the quarter that ended on Jan. 28. That compared with a loss of $580 million, or $5.44 per diluted share, a year earlier. It has posted a loss in all but two of the last 24 quarters, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
How in the world is it possible for a retailer to lose that amount of money in just three months?
As I have said before, if they had employees flushing dollar bills down the toilet 24 hours a day they still shouldn’t have losses that big.
This week we also learned that Payless is heading for bankruptcy. According to Bloomberg, the chain is planning to imminently close at least 400 stores…
Payless Inc., the struggling discount shoe chain, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company is initially planning to close 400 to 500 stores as it reorganizes operations, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations aren’t public. Payless had originally looked to shutter as many as 1,000 locations, and the number may still be in flux, according to one of the people.
Of course these are just two examples of a much broader phenomenon.
Never before in U.S. history have we seen such a dramatic wave of store closures. According to Business Insider, over 3,500 retail locations “are expected to close in the next couple of months”…
Thousands of mall-based stores are shutting down in what’s fast becoming one of the biggest waves of retail closures in decades.
More than 3,500 stores are expected to close in the next couple of months.
Once thriving shopping malls are rapidly being transformed into ghost towns. As I wrote about just recently, “you might be tempted to think that ‘Space Available’ was the hottest new retail chain in the entire country.”
When an anchor store like Sears or Macy’s closes, it often triggers a downward spiral in performance for shopping malls.
Not only do the malls lose the income and shopper traffic from that store’s business, but the closure often triggers “co-tenancy clauses” that allow the other mall tenants to terminate their leases or renegotiate the terms, typically with a period of lower rents, until another retailer moves into the anchor space.
Years ago I wrote of a time when we would see boarded-up storefronts all across America, and now it is happening.
Instead of asking which retailers are going to close, perhaps we should be asking which ones are going to survive this retail cataclysm.
In the past, you could always count on middle class U.S. consumers to save the day, but today the middle class is steadily shrinking and U.S. consumers are increasingly tapped out.
For instance, just look at what is happening to delinquency rates on auto loans…
US auto loan and lease credit loss rates weakened in the second half of 2016, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings, which said they will continue to deteriorate.
“Subprime credit losses are accelerating faster than the prime segment, and this trend is likely to continue as a result of looser underwriting standards by lenders in recent years,” said Michael Taiano, a director at Fitch.
The last time so many Americans got behind on subprime auto loans was during the last financial crisis.
We are seeing so many similarities to what happened just prior to the last recession, and yet most Americans still seem to think that the U.S. economy is going to be just fine in 2017.
The last recession probably should have started back in late 2015, but thanks to manipulation by the Fed and an unprecedented debt binge by the Obama administration, official U.S. GDP growth has been able to stay barely above zero for the last year and a half.
But just because something is delayed does not mean that it is canceled.
All along, our long-term economic imbalances have continued to get even worse, and a date with destiny is rapidly approaching for the U.S. economy.
If you didn’t know better, you might be tempted to think that “Space Available” was the hottest new retail chain in the entire country. As you will see below, it is being projected that about a third of all shopping malls in the United States will soon close, and we just recently learned that the number of “distressed retailers” is the highest that it has been since the last recession. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can possibly believe that the U.S. economy is in “good shape” after looking at the retail industry. In my recent article about the ongoing “retail apocalypse“, I discussed the fact that Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s have all announced that they are closing dozens of stores in 2017, and you can find a pretty comprehensive list of 19 U.S. retailers that are “on the brink of bankruptcy” right here. Needless to say, quite a bloodbath is going on out there right now.
But I didn’t realize how truly horrific things were for the retail industry until I came across an article about mall closings on Time Magazine’s website…
About one-third of malls in the U.S. will shut their doors in the coming years, retail analyst Jan Kniffen told CNBC Thursday. His prediction comes in the wake of Macy’s reporting its worst consecutive same-store sales decline since the financial crisis.
Macy’s and its fellow retailers in American malls are challenged by an oversupply of retail space as customers migrate toward online shopping, as well as fast fashion retailers like H&M and off-price stores such as T.J. Maxx. As a result, about 400 of the country’s 1,100 enclosed malls will fail in the upcoming years. Of those that remain, he predicts that about 250 will thrive and the rest will continue to struggle.
Can you imagine what this country is going to look like if that actually happens?
Shopping malls all over the United States are literally becoming “ghost towns”, and many that have already closed have stayed empty for years and years.
The process usually starts when a shopping mall starts losing anchor stores. That is why it is so alarming that Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s are planning to shut down so many locations in 2017. According to one recent report, 310 shopping malls in America are in imminent danger of losing an anchor store…
Dozens of malls have closed in the last 10 years, and many more are at risk of shutting down as retailers like Macy’s, JCPenney, and Sears — also known as anchor stores — shutter hundreds of stores to staunch the bleeding from falling sales.
The commercial-real-estate firm CoStar estimates that nearly a quarter of malls in the US, or roughly 310 of the nation’s 1,300 shopping malls, are at high risk of losing an anchor store.
Once the anchor stores start going, traffic falls off dramatically for the other stores and they start leaving too.
Four years ago in “The Beginning Of The End” I warned that empty storefronts would soon litter the national landscape, and now that is precisely what is happening.
Now that the Christmas season is over, some retailers that have been around for decades have suddenly decided that it is time to file for bankruptcy. Sadly, one of those retailers is HHGregg…
HHGregg Inc., the 61-year-old seller of appliances and electronics, is moving closer to Chapter 11 after announcing a store-closing plan, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The filing may come as soon as next week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. Bloomberg previously reported that HHGregg might file for bankruptcy in March if it couldn’t reach an out-of-court solution.
Another retailer that was once riding high but is now dealing with bankruptcy is BCBG…
BCBG, the California-based fashion retailer that had acquired fashion design firm Herve Leger in 1998, and that once had more than 570 boutiques globally, including 175 in the US, and whose cocktail dresses and handbags were shown off by celebrities, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday.
It is buckling under $459 million of debt. It has 4,800 employees. Layoffs have already started. More layoffs and other cost cuts are planned, according to court documents, cited by Bloomberg. It started closing 120 of its stores in January. It wants to sell itself at a court-supervised auction. If that fails, it wants to negotiate a debt-for-equity swap with junior lenders owed $289 million.
If the U.S. economy was actually doing as well as the stock market says that it should be doing, all of these retail chains would not be closing stores and going bankrupt.
We live at a time when middle class consumers are tapped out. According to one recent survey, 57 percent of all Americans do not even have enough money in the bank to write a $500 check for an unexpected expense.
And people are falling out of the middle class at a staggering pace. The number of homeless people in New York City recently set a brand new record high, and city authorities plan to construct 90 new homeless shelters within the next five years.
On the west coast we are also seeing a dramatic rise in homelessness. The following comes from an article by Dan Lyman…
Citizen journalists have captured stunning images and video of homeless encampments that are spiraling out of control in the shadows of Disneyland and Anaheim Stadium in California.
The tent city has recently sprung up along the Santa Ana riverbed, near a busy convergence of three major California highways known as the “Orange Crush,” at the border of Anaheim and Santa Ana, the latter a “sanctuary city.”
Homeless activists estimate that as many as 1,000 people are camped in the region.
You can see some video footage of this homeless encampment on YouTube right here…
Incredibly, the Federal Reserve is almost certainly going to raise interest rates at their next meeting even though the U.S. economy is faltering so badly. That only makes sense if they are trying to make Donald Trump look as bad as possible.
Even though this giant bubble of false economic stability that we are currently enjoying has lasted far longer than it should have, the truth is that nothing has changed about the long-term economic outlook at all.
America is still heading for “economic Armageddon”, and the retail industry is a huge red flag that is warning us that our day of reckoning is approaching more rapidly than many had anticipated.
J.C. Penney and Family Christian Stores are the latest retail giants to announce widespread store closings. As you will see below, J.C. Penney plans to close between 130 and 140 stores, and Family Christian is closing all of their 240 stores. In recent months the stock market has been absolutely soaring, and so most people have simply assumed that the “real economy” must be doing well. But that is not the case at all. In fact, the retail apocalypse that I have been documenting for quite some time appears to be gaining momentum.
J.C. Penney (JCP) plans to close 130 to 140 stores and offer buyouts to 6,000 workers as the department-store industry sags in competition with online sellers and nimble niche retailers.
The company said Friday that it would shutter 13% to 14% of its locations and introduce new goods and services aimed at the shifting preferences of its customer base.
Meanwhile, many observers were quite surprised when Family Christian Stores decided to fold up shop for good. They were known as the largest Christian retailer on the entire planet, but now after 85 years they are going out of business forever…
Family Christian, which bills itself as the “world’s largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise,” announced Thursday it is closing after 85 years.
The non-profit company, employing more than 3,000 people in 240 stores in 36 states, said in a brief statement that the retailer had been facing declining sales since filing for bankruptcy protection in 2015 and had no choice but to shut down.
These two announcements are part of larger trend that we have been witnessing all over the country. As I have documented previously, Macy’s announced that it would be closing 100 stores earlier this year, and about the same time Sears said that it would be closing another 150 stores.
Back in 2010, Sears had a staggering 3,555 stores.
Before their recent announcement, Sears was down to 1,503 stores, and now this latest round of cuts will leave them with somewhere around 1,350.
Of course it won’t be too long before Sears has zero stores, and my regular readers know that I have been talking about the demise of Sears for a very long time.
The cold, hard truth of the matter is that the “real economy” is a total mess, and that is one of the primary reasons why these ridiculous stock market valuations that we are seeing right now are not sustainable.
One expert that agrees with my assessment is former Reagan Administration White House Budget Director David Stockman. In a recent interview, he explained why he believes that “everything will grind to a halt” after March 15th…
Stockman, who wrote a book titled “Trumped” predicting a Trump victory in 2016, says, “I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in the hot place that’s going to happen. This is delusional. This is the greatest suckers’ rally of all time. It is based on pure hopium and not any analysis at all as what it will take to push through a big tax cut. Donald Trump is in a trap. Today the debt is $20 trillion. It’s 106% of GDP. . . .Trump is inheriting a built-in deficit of $10 trillion over the next decade under current policies that are built in. Yet, he wants more defense spending, not less. He wants drastic sweeping tax cuts for corporations and individuals. He wants to spend more money on border security and law enforcement. He’s going to do more for the veterans. He wants this big trillion dollar infrastructure program. You put all that together and it’s madness. It doesn’t even begin to add up, and it won’t happen when you are struggling with the $10 trillion of debt that’s coming down the pike and the $20 trillion that’s already on the books.”
Then, Stockman drops this bomb and says:
“I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th 2017. That’s the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015. That holiday expires. The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion. It will then be law. It will be a hard stop. The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash. We are burning cash at a $75 billion a month rate. By summer, they will be out of cash. Then we will be in the mother of all debt ceiling crises. Everything will grind to a halt. I think we will have a government shutdown. There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.”
“The S&P 500 has been trading at 26 times earnings while earnings have been dropping for the past six or seven quarters. There is no booming recovery coming. There is going to be a recession and there will be no stimulus baton to bail it out. That is the new fact that neither Trump nor the Wall Street gamblers remotely understand.”
It is very difficult to argue with Stockman on this.
There are some people out there that seem to think that Donald Trump can miraculously turn the U.S. economy around just because he is Donald Trump.
It doesn’t work that way.
We are 20 trillion dollars in debt, and we are currently adding about a trillion dollars a year to that total. There is no possible way that Trump can cut taxes, increase military spending, build a border wall, spend much more on veterans and spend an extra trillion dollars on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.
We are flat broke as a nation and there simply is not money available to do everything that Donald Trump wants to do.
So we shall see what happens after March 15th. Unfortunately, I happen to agree with Stockman that economic reality is about to come knocking and Trump and his supporters are about to get a very rude wake up call.
The stock market has been on quite a roll in recent weeks, but signs of trouble continue to plague the real economy. Earlier this week, I talked about the “retail apocalypse” that is sweeping America. Major retail chains such as Sears and Macy’s are closing stores and laying off workers, but I didn’t think that Wal-Mart would be feeling the pain as well. Unfortunately, that is precisely what is happening. USA Today is reporting that approximately 1,000 jobs will be cut at Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas by the end of this month…
Walmart’s plan to lay off of hundreds of employees is the latest ripple in a wave of job cuts and store closures that are roiling the retail industry.
The world’s largest retailer is cutting roughly 1,000 jobs at its corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., later this month, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak about it.
I have driven past Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville a number of times, and it is in a beautiful part of the country. Bentonville and the surrounding areas had been booming, but it looks like times may be changing.
Meanwhile, there are signs of trouble out on the west coast as well. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that there is going to be a new round of engineering job cuts at Boeing…
Boeing Co. has internally announced a new round of employee buyouts for engineers companywide, including in Southern California, and warned that layoff notices will follow later this month to engineers in Washington state, where the company has a large presence.
Management did not cite a target for the number of projected job cuts.
The news comes after company Vice Chairman Ray Conner and the new chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, or BCA, Kevin McAllister, warned in December of the need to aim for further cuts in 2017.
And according to Boeing spokesperson Doug Alder, similar job cut announcements are coming for other classes of workers as well.
So why is Boeing getting rid of so many employees?
Well, the truth is that Boeing’s business is way down. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
Business has been tough. In 2016, deliveries fell by 14 jets from a year ago, to 748. Net orders dropped 13% from an already rotten level in 2015, to just 668, down 53% from 2014. And the lowest level since 2010!
When the economy is doing well, air traffic tends to rise, and when the economy is doing poorly it tends to go down.
Needless to say, the fact that Boeing is doing so poorly does not bode well for the future.
In addition to Wal-Mart, another major retailer that is letting people go is Petco…
Petco is cutting 180 positions with about 50 at its San Diego headquarters, the pet supply retailer confirmed Wednesday.
The company made the cuts across its workforce and include both existing and open positions.
Petco has about 650 workers at its headquarters in Rancho Bernardo. It employs 27,000 in the U.S.
My wife and I have three cats, and even though Petco tends to be a bit overpriced we have always appreciated the work that they do.
Unfortunately, when the economy gets tough spending on pets tends to be one of the first things to get cut back, and this current trouble at Petco could be a sign that rough sledding is ahead for the entire economy.
Of course your personal perspective on these things is likely to be very heavily influenced by your immediate surroundings. Those that live in wealthy enclaves of major cities such as San Francisco, New York City or Washington D.C. may be wondering how anyone could possibly be talking about economic trouble right now.
But if you live in economically depressed areas of Appalachia or the upper Midwest, it may seem like the last economic recession never even ended.
There have been pockets of economic prosperity in recent years, and this has resulted in some people becoming exceedingly wealthy. Meanwhile, things have just continued to become even tougher for millions of other families as the cost of living always seems to grow faster than their paychecks do.
If you are in the top one percent of all income earners, maybe to you it seems like things have never been better. But most of the country is living paycheck to paycheck and is just struggling to survive from month to month. The following comes from CNN…
The rich are money-making machines. Today, the top mega wealthy — the top 1% — earn an average of $1.3 million a year. It’s more than three times as much as the 1980s, when the rich “only” made $428,000, on average, according to economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.
Meanwhile, the bottom 50% of the American population earned an average of $16,000 in pre-tax income in 1980. That hasn’t changed in over three decades.
The workers being laid off at the companies discussed above are real people with real hopes and real dreams. Perhaps many of them will be able to land other employment fairly soon, but the truth is that the job market is really tough in many areas of the country right now.
Finding a good job that will allow you to pay the bills and support your family is not easy. You may find that out the hard way if you end up losing your current job during the economic troubles that will come in 2017.
Earlier today, I came across an excellent article by Gail Tverberg that detailed a whole bunch of reasons why a significant economic downturn appears to be imminent in 2017. If you would like to read it, you can find it here. She points to many of the same things that I have been pointing to for a very long time.
Even though economic conditions were fairly stable throughout 2016, our long-term problems just continued to get even worse. So the truth is that we are more primed for a major crisis today than we have been at any point since the last recession.
My hope is that things will not be nearly as bad in 2017 as Gail Tverberg and others are projecting that they could be, but the warning signs are definitely there, and it isn’t going to take much to push the U.S. economy off the rails.
It has only been two weeks since Christmas, and already we are witnessing a stunning bloodbath of store closings. Macy’s shocked the retail industry by announcing that they will be closing about 100 stores. The downward spiral of Sears hit another landmark when it was announced that another 150 Sears and Kmart stores would be shutting down. And we have just learned that The Limited is immediately closing all stores nationwide. If the U.S. economy is doing just fine, then why are we experiencing such a retail apocalypse? All over America, vast shopping malls that were once buzzing with eager consumers now resemble mausoleums. We have never seen anything quite like this in our entire history, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.
Not too long ago I walked into a Macy’s, and it was eerily quiet. I stumbled around the men’s department looking for something to buy, but I was deeply disappointed in what was being offered. After some time had passed, an employee finally noticed me and came over to help, but they didn’t have anything that I was looking for.
And it is a sad thing, because over the past several years when I have gone into Macy’s looking to spend money, most of the time I have come out of there without spending a penny. Macy’s has made some very bad decisions recently, and I am hoping that they can still turn things around. But for the moment, they are closing stores and cutting jobs. The following comes from the New York Times…
Struggling with sagging sales over another crucial holiday shopping season, Macy’s announced on Wednesday that it was eliminating more than 10,000 jobs as part of a continuing plan to cut costs and close 100 stores.
Macy’s, the country’s largest department store chain, said sales at its stores had fallen 2.1 percent in November and December compared with the same period in 2015. Terry J. Lundgren, the company’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement that while the trend was “consistent with the lower end of our guidance, we had anticipated sales would be stronger.”
Another legendary retailer that really does not have any hope left is Sears. Every year they just keep closing even more stores, and because they are losing so much money they don’t have anything to invest in the stores that remain. As a result, the state of many Sears locations is downright embarrassing at this point…
But the retailer, famous for selling everything from shoes to vacuum cleaners to whole houses, is facing its biggest crisis ever. It’s closing hundreds of stores. Others are in shambles, with leaking ceilings and broken escalators. In some, employees hang bedsheets to shield shoppers from sections that stand empty.
Since the early portion of 2013, sales are down an astounding 37 percent for the company. Sears is currently more than 1.6 billion dollars in debt, and they are losing more than a billion dollars a year.
They keep closing stores in a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding, but it hasn’t worked.
In 2010, Sears had 3,555 stores.
Last year, Sears had 1,503 stores, and now a whole bunch more are being shut down.
But everyone can see where this is going. As I have stated repeatedly, Sears is going to zero, and many of the experts completely agree with me…
“They are going out of business,” said Van Conway, an expert in bankruptcy and debt restructuring and CEO of Van Conway & Partners. “This snowball is 90% of the way to the bottom of the hill.”
Of course Sears is still surviving for the moment, and that is more than can be said for The Limited.
Back in the old days, it seemed like every mall had one of their stores. I remember passing it on my way to Orange Julius and Herman’s World of Sporting Goods.
But now they are shutting down every single location and will be online only…
American malls just got emptier.
The Limited, a once-popular women’s clothing brand that offers casual attire and workwear, no longer has any storefronts.
On Saturday, a message on the store’s website read, “We’re sad to say that all The Limited stores nationwide have officially closed their doors. But this isn’t goodbye.” The website will still be up and running and will continue to ship nationwide, the company said.
In addition to Macy’s, Sears and The Limited, other huge names in the retail industry have also fallen on hard times and have had to shut stores over the past 12 months. The following comes from the Washington Post…
The retail environment has proved challenging for a variety of stores: Sports Authority went out of business in 2016, shuttering more than 460 locations in U.S. malls and strip malls. PacSun, Aeropostale and American Apparel each have filed for bankruptcy protection in the past year and are aiming to reorganize and revive their businesses.
So why is this happening?
Without a doubt, our shopping habits have changed. And in the online world, many of these retailers are being absolutely crushed by competition from Amazon and other tech companies that developed online infrastructure before they did. I know that my wife and I actually prefer to shop online for many things when possible, and I anticipate that the share of retailing done online will only continue to grow in this country.
But let us also not underestimate the impact that the stagnating economy is having on ordinary consumers. Thanks to the last eight years, approximately two-thirds of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. More than a third of all Americans have a debt that is at least 180 days past due, and the rate of homeownership has been hovering near the lowest level that we have seen in about 50 years. As you read this article, more than 95 million Americans are not in the labor force, and that number has grown by 18 percent under Barack Obama. Homelessness in New York City and other major cities is at a record high, and as a nation we have accumulated the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world.
Let us hope that things can be turned around, but if current trends continue the retail apocalypse is just going to go from bad to worse, and we will continue to see lots of headlines about more stores closing down.
Two of the largest retailers in America are steamrolling toward bankruptcy. Sears and J.C. Penney are both losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter, and both of them appear to be caught in the grip of a death spiral from which it will be impossible to escape. Once upon a time, Sears was actually the largest retailer in the United States, and even today Sears and J.C. Penney are “anchor stores” in malls all over the country. When I was growing up, my mother would take me to the mall when it was time to go clothes shopping, and there were usually just two options: Sears or J.C. Penney. When I got older, I actually worked for Sears for a little while. At the time, nobody would have ever imagined that Sears or J.C. Penney could go out of business someday. But that is precisely what is happening. They are both shutting down unprofitable stores and laying off employees in a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy, but everyone knows that they are just delaying the inevitable. These two great retail giants are dying, and they certainly won’t be the last to fall. This is just the beginning.
The Death Of Sears
Sales have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row, and the legendary retailer has been closing hundreds of stores and selling off property in a frantic attempt to turn things around.
Unfortunately for Sears, it is not working. In fact, Sears has announced that it expects to lose “between $250 million to $360 million” for the quarter that will end on February 1st.
Things have gotten so bad that Sears is even making commercials that openly acknowledge how badly it is struggling. For example, consider the following bit of dialogue from a recent Sears television commercial featuring two young women…
“Wait, the movie theater is on the other side,” the passenger says.
“But Sears always has parking!” the driver responds.
Sears always has parking???
Of course the unspoken admission is that Sears always has parking because nobody shops there anymore.
A couple of months ago I walked into a Sears store in the middle of the week and it was like a ghost town. A few associates were milling around here and there having private discussions among themselves, but other than that it was eerily quiet.
You can find 18 incredibly depressing photographs which do a great job of illustrating why Sears is steadily dying right here. This was once one of America’s greatest companies, but soon it will be dead.
The Death Of J.C. Penney
J.C. Penny has been a dead man walking for a long time. In some ways, it is in even worse shape than Sears.
If you can believe it, J.C. Penney actually lost 586 million dollars during the second quarter of 2013 alone.
How in the world do you lose 586 million dollars in three months?
Are they paying employees to flush giant piles of cash down the toilets?
The CEO of J.C. Penney says that these closures were necessary for the future of the company…
“As we continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth, it is necessary to reexamine the financial performance of our store portfolio and adjust our national footprint accordingly,” CEO Myron Ullman said in a news release.
Actually, his statement would be a lot more accurate if he replaced “continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth” with ” prepare for bankruptcy”.
It would be hard to overstate how much of a disaster 2013 was for J.C. Penney. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNN article…
It’s been a brutal year for J.C. Penney, its stock falling over 60% in the past 12 months. The company has been losing hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter, and is in the midst of another turnaround effort after ousting former Apple executive Ron Johnson last year.
Overall, shares of J.C. Penney have fallen by an astounding 84 percent since February 2012. And keep in mind that this decline has happened during one of the greatest stock market rallies of all-time.
For now, J.C. Penney will continue to try to desperately raise more cash from investors that are foolish enough to give it to them, but all that is really accomplishing is just delaying the inevitable.
If you would like to see some photos that graphically illustrate why J.C. Penney is falling apart, you can find some right here.
And of course Sears and J.C. Penney are not the only large retailers that have fallen on hard times. This week the CEO of Best Buy admitted that sales declined at his chain during the holiday season…
Best Buy shares skid on Thursday after the retailer said total revenue and sales at its established U.S stores fell in the all-important holiday season due to intense discounting by rivals, supply constraints for key products and weak traffic in December.
In the immediate aftermath of that announcement, Best Buy stock was down more than 30 percent in pre-market trading.
And Macy’s just announced that it is laying off 2,500 employees in an attempt to move in a more profitable direction.
So why is all of this happening?
Aren’t we supposed to be in the midst of an “economic recovery”?
That is what the Obama administration and the mainstream media keep telling us, but it is simply not true.
In fact, a new Gallup survey has found that the number of Americans that are “financially worse off” than a year ago is significantly higher than the number of Americans that say that they are “financially better off” than a year ago…
More Americans, 42%, say they are financially worse off now than they were a year ago, reversing the lower levels found over the past two years. Just more than a third of Americans say their financial situation has improved from a year ago.
But a lot of people out there will continue to deny what is happening right in front of their eyes. They are kind of like that woman over in California who was conned out of half a million dollars by a Nigerian online dating scam. They will never admit the truth until it is far too late to do anything about it.
So have you been to a Sears or a J.C. Penney lately?
Do you believe that they will survive?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…