It’s Only April, And U.S. Retailers Have Already Closed More Stores Than They Did ALL Of Last Year

If the U.S. economy is in good shape, why have retailers already shuttered more stores than they did in all of 2018?  Not only that, we are also on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closures in a single year by more than 50 percent.  Yes, Internet commerce is growing, but the Internet has been around for several decades now.  It isn’t as if this threat just suddenly materialized.  As Internet commerce continues to slowly expand, we would expect to see a steady drip of brick and mortar stores close, but instead what we are witnessing is an avalanche.  If the U.S. economy really was “booming”, this wouldn’t be happening.  But if the U.S. economy was heading into a recession, this is precisely what we would expect to see.

Last year, U.S. retailers closed 5,864 stores.

That was a rather depressing number, but here we are in April 2019 and we have already surpassed it.  The following comes from CNN

This year, US retailers have announced that 5,994 stores will close. That number already exceeds last year’s total of 5,864 closure announcements, according to a recent report from Coresight Research.

At this time last year, there was a lot of optimism for the retail industry.  Foot traffic at our shopping centers rose steadily throughout the early portion of the year before peaking in August.

But then something changed, and since that time there has been a clear downward trend

Foot traffic at some of the best shopping centers across the country peaked around August 2018 and has since started to fall, after rebounding for much of last year, according to a new report from data analytics firm Thasos, which uses more than 100 million mobile phones to track when consumers enter and leave certain trade areas.

Once again, you can’t blame this on Internet commerce.  Foot traffic was rising for quite a while, but now what we are seeing is perfectly consistent with an economic slowdown.

Sadly, this could be just the beginning.  In fact, one expert quoted by CNBC expects total store closures in the U.S. to hit 12,000 by the end of 2019…

“I expect store closures to accelerate in 2019, hitting some 12,000 by year end,” Deborah Weinswig, founder and CEO of Coresight, said.

If that happens, we will shatter the old yearly record by about 4,000.

We are in the early innings of America’s “retail apocalypse”, and it is going to get much, much worse.

Of course it isn’t just the retail industry that is hurting right now.  With each passing day, we continue to get more signs that the U.S. economy is sliding into a new recession.  For example, we just learned that during the first quarter of 2019 U.S. manufacturing was down 1.1 percent compared to a year ago…

Manufacturing fell 1.1 percent in the first three months of the year compared to the same period of 2018, the Fed reported.

The biggest reason for the decline in manufacturing is quite obvious.  Businesses are absolutely swamped with unsold inventory, and the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has been steadily rising for months.

Earlier today, a Bloomberg article commented on the bloated inventories that we are seeing all over the nation…

One overhang is the auto market, where the six-month average of dealer stocks of cars and trucks matches the highest since 2009 at 75 days. Manufacturers and sellers of furniture and clothing share the same problem, as do small businesses. The inventory swing is likely to exacerbate the U.S. slowdown, with the economy already facing headwinds from the waning impact of tax cuts, slowing global growth and continuing trade tensions.

As economic activity slows down, less stuff is being shipped around the nation by air, rail and truck.  We just got a new update from the Cass Freight Index, and it shows that freight shipment volume in the U.S. has now fallen for four months in a row

Freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – in March fell 1% from last year, according to the Cass Freight Index. It was the fourth month in a row of year-over-year declines, and the first declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

For my regular readers, these new numbers should be no surprise, because I have been tracking these trends for an extended period of time.

All of the numbers are telling us that economic conditions are getting worse, and all of the experts are telling us that we are way overdue for another recession.

Unfortunately, it isn’t likely to be “just another recession”.  As I have repeatedly stressed, all of our long-term economic and financial problems have gotten far worse since the last recession.  We have never seen bubbles like the bubbles that we are facing now, and the stage is set for the greatest meltdown in American history.

The only reason why we have even been able to get this far is by ruthlessly mortgaging the future.  We borrowed trillions upon trillions of dollars that we should not have borrowed, and the Federal Reserve relentlessly pumped “hot money” into overheated financial markets.

Those “emergency measures” were able to stabilize the U.S. economy for a while, but in the process they made our long-term problems much, much worse.

In the end, it isn’t just the retail industry that is heading for an “apocalypse”.  Our entire economy is built on a foundation of sand, and a giant storm is rapidly approaching our shores.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Retail Layoffs Are 92 Percent Higher In 2019 – And Now Even Wal-Mart Is “Quietly Closing Stores”

Just like we witnessed during the last recession, major retailers are laying off tens of thousands of workers, and it looks like this will be the worst year for store closings in all of U.S. history.  Many are referring to this as “the retail apocalypse”, and without a doubt this is one of the toughest stretches for retailers that we have ever seen.  But many believe that what we have witnessed so far is just the beginning.  After all, if retailers are struggling this much now, how bad will things be once the next recession really gets rolling?

Of course the truth is that things have been rocky for the retail industry for quite a few years, but the numbers are telling us that this crisis is really starting to accelerate.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, retail layoffs were up a whopping 92 percent in January and February compared to the same period a year ago.  The following comes from NBC News

More than 41,000 people have lost their jobs in the retail industry so far this year — a 92 percent spike in layoffs since the same time last year, according to a new report.

And the layoffs continue to mount, with JCPenney announcing this week it would be closing 18 stores in addition to three previously announced closures, as part of a “standard annual review.”

Yes, competition from Internet commerce is hurting the traditional retail industry, but it certainly doesn’t explain a 92 percent increase.

And very few retailers have been able to avoid this downsizing trend.  At this point, even the largest retailer in the entire country has begun “quietly closing stores”

Walmart is closing at least 11 US stores across eight states.

The stores include one Walmart Supercenter in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Walmart Neighborhood Market stores in Arizona, California, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

For decades, Wal-Mart has been expanding extremely aggressively.

They have plenty of cash, and so the only way that it would make sense for them to close stores is if they anticipated that we are heading into a recession.

Here is a list of the addresses where Wal-Mart stores are closing

6085 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, Arizona
3900 W. Ina Road, Tucson, Arizona
1600 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, California
712 N. Western Ave., Liberal, Kansas
1229 NE. Evangeline Trwy., Lafayette, Louisiana
3603 Broad River Road, Columbia, South Carolina
1757 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy., Morristown, Tennessee
2501 University Commons Way, Knoxville, Tennessee
7000 Iron Bridge Road, North Chesterfield, Virginia
2864 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, Virginia
7809 NE. Vancouver Plaza Dr., Vancouver, Washington

Of course Wal-Mart is in far better shape than almost everyone else in the industry.

One of Wal-Mart’s key competitors, Shopko, has just announced that they will be shutting down all of their stores

Shopko will liquidate its assets and close all of its remaining locations by mid-June.

The company was unable to find a buyer for the retail business and will begin winding down its operations beginning this week, the company said in statement released Monday. The decision to liquidate will bring an end to the brick-and-mortar business that began in 1962 with one location in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

And personally I was very saddened to learn that Lifeway Christian Bookstores has also decided to close all their brick and mortar stores

Lifeway Christian Bookstores announced last week it would be closing the doors of all 170 brick and mortar stores, in a pivot to focusing on digital and e-commerce.

“The decision to close our local stores is a difficult one,” said Lifeway Chief Executive Officer Brad Waggoner. “While we had hoped to keep some stores open, current market projections show this is no longer a viable option.”

Whenever I do an article like this, I always have some readers that try to convince me that this is only happening because of the growth of Internet retailing.

And yes, Internet retailing has been growing, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of all U.S. retail sales.  In addition, it is important to point out that Internet retailers had a very disappointing holiday season just like brick and mortar retailers did.

Ultimately, the truth is that the U.S. economy has been steadily slowing down in recent months.

During the months of December, January and February, the amount of stuff being moved around the country by truck, rail and air was lower than during all of those same months a year earlier.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

Now it’s the third month in a row, and the red flag is getting more visible and a little harder to ignore about the goods-based economy: Freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – in February fell 2.1% from February a year ago, according to the Cass Freight Index, released today. The three months in a row of year-over-year declines are the first such declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

I have a feeling that when we get the final numbers for March that they will show that this streak has now extended to four months.

Right now, unsold goods are starting to pile up in U.S. warehouses at a rate that we haven’t seen since the last recession.  Many retailers that are barely clinging to life will simply not survive if economic conditions continue to deteriorate.

Unfortunately, it appears that things are only going to get rougher for the U.S. economy in the months ahead.

So more retail workers are going to get laid off, more stores are going to close, and there are going to be a lot more stories about our ongoing “retail apocalypse” in the mainstream media.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

“Biggest Drop In More Than Nine Years”: America’s Retail Apocalypse Is Greatly Accelerating In The Early Stages Of 2019

All over America retailers are going bankrupt and closing stores.  Of course this has been happening for years, but as you will see below the numbers have dramatically escalated during the early portion of 2019.  Our landscape is already littered with countless numbers of hollowed out stores and abandoned malls, and it is about to get a whole lot worse.  Retailers were hoping that a strong holiday season would turn things around, but that didn’t happen.  In fact, we just learned that retail sales in the United States suffered “their biggest drop in more than nine years” during the month of December…

U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than nine years in December as receipts fell across the board, suggesting a sharp slowdown in economic activity at the end of 2018.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales tumbled 1.2 percent, the largest decline since September 2009 when the economy was emerging from recession.

Every time I write an article like this, a few commenters chime in and blame this entire trend on the rise of online retailing.  And without a doubt online retailing has been growing in recent years, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of the entire industry.

If online retail sales were to blame for this latest drop, you would expect to see that reflected in the numbers.  But instead, when we look at the numbers what we find is that online retailers experienced “the biggest drop ever” during the month of December…

December online internet sales (non-store retailers) tumbled 3.9% MoM – the biggest drop ever

So brick and mortar retail sales are going down and online retail sales are going down.

It is starting to smell a lot like a recession, and many in the industry are starting to panic.

And when I say panic, I mean that they are closing stores at a pace that is far faster than last year.  In fact, so far retail store closings are 23 percent ahead of the pace set last year

Coresight Research released an outlook of 2019 store closures Wednesday, saying there’s “no light at the end of the tunnel.”

According to the global market research firm’s report, 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.

Unfortunately, the number of store closings is about to double because Payless ShoeSource plans to declare bankruptcy and shut down 2,300 stores

U.S. discount retailer Payless ShoeSource Inc plans to close all of its approximately 2,300 stores when it files for bankruptcy later this month for the second time in as many years, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

And Payless is far from alone.  If you can believe it, the number of retail bankruptcies in 2019 is “already at one-third of last year’s total”

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.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a retail apocalypse looks like, and we are still in the early chapters.

It is going to take some time for this drama to fully play out.  Just look at Sears – it is a money bleeding zombie of a company, but Eddie Lampert has convinced investors to give things one more try.  But they are going to zero, and so is JC Penney, and so are a whole host of other major retailers.

In the end, millions upon millions of square feet of retail space is going to be sitting vacant.  Some of the more economically depressed areas of the country are going to closely resemble ghost towns, and we are going to see a commercial real estate crisis that is off the charts.

Switching gears, we also just learned that the number of Americans that are at least 90 days behind on their auto loans is already “more than 1 million higher” than it was during the peak of the last recession…

More than 7 million Americans are 90 days or more behind on their vehicle loans as of the end of 2018, according to data released Tuesday by the New York Federal Reserve. That’s more than 1 million higher than the peak in 2010 as the country was recovering from its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

How is that possible?

I thought that the U.S. economy was supposed to be “booming”.

Isn’t that what they have been telling us?

In recent weeks I have repeatedly brought up current economic numbers that are even worse than the last recession, and yet so many people out there continue to insist that everything is just fine.

No, everything is definitely not “just fine”.

Economic activity is slowing down dramatically, and many believe that things are about to get a whole lot worse.  In fact, Peter Schiff is warning that what is ahead “is going to be worse than what we now call the Great Recession”…

People are going to realize that we checked into the monetary roach motel that I talked about from the beginning and that there’s no way out, and then the dollar is going to fall like a stone.

When they find out that it’s never over and it didn’t work, then there’s going to be nothing propping up the dollar and it’s going to drop like a stone, the price of gold is going to take off, and the recession that we’re entering into, which is going to be an inflationary recession, is going to be worse than what we now call the Great Recession.

Maybe it’s taken longer than we might have thought to play out, but this is the beginning of the end.”

I wish that I had better news for you today, but I don’t.

The retail apocalypse is accelerating, America’s debt crisis is starting to reach a critical level, and very challenging days are approaching for all of us.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

 

The Retail Apocalypse Picks Up Speed As Sears, JCPenney, Brookstone And Mattress Firm Spiral Toward Bankruptcy

Over 20 major retailers have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of last year, and in 2018 we may break the all-time record for annual store closings that was established just last year.  We are in the midst of the worst retail apocalypse in American history, and it appears to be picking up speed as retail giants such as Sears, JCPenney, Brookstone and Mattress Firm spiral toward bankruptcy.  We live at a time when the middle class is being systematically destroyed, and so the truth is that U.S. consumers simply do not have as much discretionary income as they once did.  Many large retailers believed that things would eventually turn around, and they have been fighting very hard to survive, but now time has run out for quite a few of them.

Mattress Firm

Everyone knew that Mattress Firm was in deep trouble, but it still surprised many of us when it was announced that they are officially planning to file for bankruptcy.  The following comes from Reuters

Mattress Firm Inc, the largest U.S. mattress retailer, is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, as it seeks to exit costly store leases and shore up its business, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

At this moment Mattress Firm has approximately 3,000 brick-and-mortar locations, and as those stores close down those abandoned buildings are going to be giant eyesores on street corners all over America.

Brookstone

When I was a kid back in the 1980s, it seemed like Brookstone had an outlet in every mall I visited.  But now Brookstone has filed for bankruptcy, and all remaining mall stores will be shut down

Brookstone filed for bankruptcy and will close its remaining 101 mall stores.

The mall and airport seller, best known for massage chairs, quirky gadgets, and travel luggage, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court on Thursday. It was Brookstone’s second bankruptcy round in four years.

Sears

Sears has been shutting down stores for years, but up until now they have never admitted that bankruptcy was on the horizon.

But now time has run out and emergency measures are required if Sears is to survive.  The following comes from CNN

Sears is running out of time to fix its problems, the CEO says.

Eddie Lampert, who controls most of the company’s shares through his hedge fund, told the board on Monday that it must address “significant near-term constraints” in its cash position.

Of course Sears is still not actually using the term “bankruptcy”, but even CNN is admitting that Eddie Lampert used “language that suggested the company could be forced out of business”

Lampert did not use the word “bankruptcy,” but he raised the possibility that creditors could be wiped out, a process that often takes place in bankruptcy court, without immediate action.

He also said it was in the best interest of stakeholders to “accomplish this as a going concern” — language that suggested the company could be forced out of business.

Those that have been following my work for a long time know that I have repeatedly stated that Sears is going to zero.

Now we appear to be on the precipice of that actually happening, and it is a very sad day for America indeed.

JCPenney

Speaking of retailers that are going to zero, JCPenney is absolutely drowning in debt and has a very dismal prognosis for the future

Leaderless, $4 billion in debt and with a stock price below $2, the besieged retailer faces an uncertain fate after posting its latest round of dismal earnings.

“They’re in a leaky boat that eventually will sink,” said Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies at the Columbia Business School and a former CEO of Sears Canada and other department stores. “The prognosis for the future is not happiness.”

In the end, JCPenney is not going to survive, and so America will have to shop elsewhere for substandard clothing at inflated prices.

Bed Bath & Beyond

Nobody is suggesting that bankruptcy is imminent for Bed Bath & Beyond, but if they continue to have disastrous sales results it won’t be too long before they are on the chopping block too…

The struggling retailer said Wednesday that it was bringing on two top management consulting firms to help it cut costs and improve its merchandise. CEO Steven Temares did not name the firms.

The housewares retailer needs help. Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond plunged nearly 25% Thursday to their lowest level since March 2000 because of awful sales during the previous quarter.

We are moving into the most critical time of the year for retailers.  Most troubled chains will hang on through the next three months, but once we get to January and February we will see many of them give up the fight for good.

Meanwhile, some of the retailers that are still doing okay are warning that our trade war with China will likely mean much higher prices for consumers

Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. are among the large retailers and food companies that have sent a letter to U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer warning that proposed tariffs on $200 billion on Chinese goods would hurt consumers and American businesses.

Walmart’s letter, dated Sept. 6, focuses on what it says will be the repercussions of the tariffs, which would apply to goods like food and beverages, personal care products like shampoo, detergents, motor vehicles and paper goods like napkins.

Of course U.S. consumers cannot exactly afford higher prices at this point.  U.S. consumers have been spending more than they are earning month after month, and they are making up the difference by going into ever-increasing amounts of debt.

This is not what a healthy economy looks like.

If we had a healthy economy, the middle class would be growing and retailers would be thriving.

But instead, the vacancy rate at U.S. shopping malls just hit the highest level in six years

The vacancy rate at metro and regional malls around the United States hit 8.6% last quarter, the highest since the end of 2012, according to data released Monday by real estate research firm Reis (REIS).

Back then, the economy was still working its way out of a recession and an excess of malls had been built in the preceding decades. Retail vacancies peaked at 9.4% during the middle of 2011.

Things are not getting better for the U.S. economy.  We continue to see numbers that we have not seen since the last recession, and it appears that things will continue to deteriorate as we head into 2019.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

Would This Have Happened Under President Hillary? Holiday Retail Sales Soar Compare To Last Year

We are nearly a year into Donald Trump’s presidency, and the economic numbers continue to look quite good.  On Monday, we learned that U.S. retail sales during the holiday season are projected to be way up compared to 2016.  Yes, there are all sorts of economic red flags popping up all over the place, and I write about them regularly.  And without a doubt, 2017 has been one of the worst years for brick and mortar retail stores in a very long time.  But when something good happens we should acknowledge that too, and many are giving President Trump credit for the fact that retail sales are projected to be up 4.9 percent this holiday season compared to last year…

Despite thousands of store closings this year, Americans supplied a final flurry of spending to give retailers their best holiday season sales since 2011, figures released Tuesday show.

U.S. year-end holiday retail sales rose 4.9% compared to the same period last year, a welcome gift to U.S. retailers amid new signs of consumer confidence.

Of course this doesn’t mean that things have completely turned around for the retail industry.  We still absolutely shattered the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and the final number is going to be somewhere right around 7,000.  The following comes from CNBC

A larger-than-average slew of retail bankruptcies and stores being shuttered rocked the industry this year, making headlines and dragging even some of the better-performing companies such as Home Depot, TJ Maxx and Costco down with the dismal news.

So far in 2017, 6,985 store closure announcements have been made, according to a tracker from FGRT (formerly Fung Global Retail & Technology). That’s up more than 200 percent from a year ago, based on the firm’s findings.

More specifically, the number of store closings is up 229 percent compared to last year.

So yes, we are still very much in the midst of a “retail apocalypse”.

And actually, earlier this month we got news that Toys R US has filed for bankruptcy protection and could soon close as many as 200 stores

It’s hardly fun and games for the toy industry this holiday season with the bankruptcy of Toys ‘R’ Us hurting the fortunes of toymakers Mattel (MAT) and Hasbro (HAS). The sector’s prospects aren’t expected to improve anytime soon.

Toys ‘R’ Us, which filed for bankruptcy in September, is now said to be considering closing as many as 200 U.S. stores, roughly 21 percent of its brick-and-mortar locations, because of lackluster sales.

The fact that retail sales are up so much during this holiday season may slow the retail apocalypse, but it certainly will not end it.

We have got so much work to do to turn the economy around, but at least we have taken a few small steps in the right direction.  The recent tax bill that Congress passed was one of those small steps, but there is still so, so much more that needs to be accomplished.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

We Have Tripled The Number Of Store Closings From Last Year, And 20 Major Retailers Have Closed At Least 50 Stores In 2017

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.

So far this year, more than 300 retailers have filed for bankruptcy, and we are currently on pace to lose over 147 million square feet of retail space by the end of 2017.

Those are absolutely catastrophic numbers.

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.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

As America Gives Thanks, Homelessness Continues To Set New Records In Major Cities All Over The Nation

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.

Meanwhile, things are so bad in Seattle that “400 unauthorized tent camps” have popped up…

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.

If things are this bad now, how much worse will they become as the economy really starts slowing down?  Already, we have shattered the all-time yearly record for retail store closings, and we still have more than a month to go.  The following is from a CNN article entitled “Is This The Last Black Friday?”

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.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

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