“Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” ― Mark Twain

I never believe government manufactured numbers. They will always be adjusted, massaged, and manipulated to achieve a happy ending for the propagandists attempting to control and fleece the sheep. Yesterday, the government produced retail sales numbers for August that were weak and the corporate MSM propaganda machine immediately threw up bold headlines declaring how strong these numbers were. Positive stories were published on the interwebs and Wall Street hack economists were rolled out on CNBC, where the bubble headed bimbos and prostitutes for the status quo like Jim Cramer and Steve Liesman declared the recovery gaining strength. Woo Hoo.

If everyone else is whipping out that credit card, why aren’t you? Credit card debt has reached a new post recession high. They tell me consumer confidence is soaring. Forget about the 92 million working age Americans supposedly not in the labor force. Forget about real household income hovering at 1999 levels. Forget about median household net worth still 30% lower than 2007. Forget about what you see with your own two eyes in malls, strip centers and office parks as you motor around our suburban sprawl empire of debt. Those Store Closing, Space Available, and For Lease signs mean nothing.

I didn’t get a chance to peruse the commerce department drivel until this morning. They put out unadjusted data and adjusted data. Shockingly, the adjusted data is always rosier than the unadjusted data. I wonder why? I can understand the rationale for adjusting month to month data due to holidays and calendar events. But I still don’t trust the adjustments. There should not be a major difference when comparing year over year data. The adjusted data should reflect the same relationship to the unadjusted data on a year over year basis. Well guess what? It appears our friendly government drones may be pumping the current data to give the appearance of recovery. Here are my observations after taking a look at the government propaganda report:

  •  The unadjusted retail sales were only 3.2% higher than last August. Considering government reported inflation of 2%, that is a pretty shitty result. But have no fear. The “ADJUSTED” retail sales for August were 5.0% higher than last August. WTF? Guess which number gets reported to the sheep?
  • Hysterically, your government drones consider lending deadbeats $40,000 for seven years with no money down to drive away with a GM deathtrap SUV as a retail sale. The billions in subprime auto loans led to an 8.8% YoY surge in “ADJUSTED” auto sales. It seems the unadjusted number only went up 5.3%.
  • When you back out the Federal Reserve/Wall Street pumped auto sales, which will ultimately result in billions of written off bad debt (you’ll pick up the tab), unadjusted retail sales were only 2.7% higher than last August. With real inflation of 5% or more, real retail sales are negative on a year over year basis.
  • Despite financing deals of 4 years with no interest, furniture and electronics retail sales were flat versus last August. If there really is a housing recovery and 2.1 million more Americans are employed versus last August how could these discretionary sales be flat, and negative on an inflation adjusted basis?
  • Grocery store sales were up only 2.1% over last year. Even the government is reporting 2.7% food inflation in the last year. We all know it is closer to 10%, so people are actually reducing the amount of food they are buying. That is a sure sign of an economic recovery.
  • Clothing store sales were flat and department store sales were negative versus last August. So much for the back to school storyline. I do believe August is back to school time. The Sears and JC Penney Bataan Death March trudges toward bankruptcy.
  • What did surge was sales at restaurants and bars. They soared by 6.8% versus last August. We already know Darden, Yum Brands and McDonalds have reported dreadful results, so either the government is lying, soaring food prices are being passed on to customers, or people are so depressed by this awesome economic recovery they are drinking themselves into a stupor.

As a side note on the accuracy of this government data, in a previous role at IKEA, when I was a much younger man, I was responsible for filling out the monthly government retail surveys for the Census Bureau. The government drones collecting this data do not check it. They do not require proof that it is right. It is self reported by retailers across the country. Filling out this crap for the government was about as low on my priority list as whale shit. If I was really busy, I’d make the numbers up, scribble them on the form and put it in the mail. The numbers the government are accumulating are crap. And then they massage the crap. And then they publish the crap as if it means something. It’s nothing but crap.

When you see the headlines touting strong retail sales, you need to consider what you are actually seeing in the real world. RadioShack will be filing for bankruptcy within months. Wet Seal will follow. Sears is about two years from a bankruptcy filing. JC Penney’s turnaround is a sham. They continue to lose hundreds of millions every quarter and will be filing for bankruptcy within the next couple years. Target and Wal-Mart continue to post awful sales results and have stopped expanding. And as you drive around in your leased BMW, you see more Space Available signs than operating outlets in every strip center in America.

My anecdotal proof of this relentless slow motion retail trainwreck is twofold. We received our second 30% off discount coupon from Kohl’s in the last three weeks. We are so indifferent to these constant offers that we didn’t even use the first one. I have to wear dress clothes to work every day, so I went over to Kohl’s this morning when they opened at 8:00 am to get some dress shirts and pants.

The parking lot was an oasis of empty spots and there were maybe 5 customers in the entire store. I went to the mens’ section and was shocked to see about two dozen 60% to 80% off racks. There are usually two or three racks. The store was overflowing with summer merchandise. Summer is over. The store should have been overflowing with Fall merchandise. They are clearly in the midst of an inventory disaster. I found excellent dress shirts on the 70% off rack. Everything I bought was at least 50% off, even before my 30% coupon and another $10 menswear coupon.

I live in a relatively upscale suburban area and still this Kohl’s is an absolute disaster. Their gross margin is going to be hammered. Profits are going to implode. Kohl’s has always been a favorite retailer of the middle class. Decent quality at reasonable prices. Their comp store sales were between positive 5% and 15% for years, until the 2008 financial collapse. Their struggles since then coincide with the decline of middle class incomes and the fake jobs recovery. The fact that they are spiraling downward flies in the face of the propaganda being spewed by the government and media.There is no recovery for the average American.

My second data point happened on Thursday. An accident on the Turnpike forced me to take Lincoln Drive and Germantown Pike home from work (1 hour and 55 minutes of agony). I hadn’t taken this route in about six months. Germantown Pike winds through the Chestnut Hill section of Philly. This is an artsy fartsy area with boutique retail, chic outlets, and fancy restaurants. The upper middle class frequents the area. The retail stores were always open, occupied and busy.

Not anymore. I saw dozens of empty storefronts, Space Available, and For Lease signs. The open stores had no customers. The trendy eating establishments had few patrons. Even the yuppie latte drinking areas are beginning to crumble. Every office park I passed had Space Available signs in front. The amount of vacant retail and office space in this country is too vast to comprehend and is being under-reported by the real estate whores whose job it is to rent space. Ignoring the facts and the truth doesn’t change the facts and the truth.

Do you believe the government and the corporate media, or do you believe your own two eyes?

You can ignore the government reported happy talk. When retailers and restaurants report their actual sales and profits, the truth shall be revealed. It will set you free.


  1. Jim,
    Same thing down here in Phoenix. “Spec” commercial space is being constructed, yet “available” signs are everywhere. New home construction is down 15% YOY. I checked the BLS website and compared April 2007 vs April 2014 unadjusted employment for Metro Phoenix. Guess what. There are 105,000 LESS people working in 2014. Hmmm? Why do we need more office space and for that matter homes, if there is 105,000 less working people than from 7 YEARS ago.

  2. I love the Quinn Storefront Economic indicator. Anyone can use it and improve their physical well being at the same time. Pick a walking route through a neighborhood that has a lot of retail and office space. Divide the number spaces available for sale or lease by the total number of commercial spaces. The higher the percentage the worse the economy. Simple and no BS.

    Mr. Quinn you should copyright or patent this idea if you haven’t already.

  3. I work part-time for an inventory company. Our business has dropped significantly since 2008. Backrooms of many retailers have almost no inventory and sales floors are depleted. I also serve as a township planning commissioner. Our planning commission, despite serving “one of the fastest growing” townships in PA has seen virtually no new building plans, commercial or residential since 2008. The supposed economic recovery is nothing but a grand illusion.

  4. Saw inventory tags in Kohl’s today, noticed tons of shoes & clothes on clearance, all racks full yet not much new fall stock…having worked in retail, struck me as an odd time of the year for doing inventory.
    Pier 1 store closed months ago. Home Depot empty; employees “leap” upon you if you dare enter the door. Empty prime retail vacancies in mall areas, strip malls.

  5. The J. C. Penney’s in my home town closed in May 2014. One reason it closed because the clothing line was terrible. I picked up shirts that felt as if they were made from toilet or paper towels.
    Another was that the local population could not afford to shop there. Low income area.
    But what really has damaged J.C. Penney’s is that they left traditional family clothing and tried to get into the designer line and had a store full of clothing but nothing that many people wanted or needed.They closed down one line of clothing that had great sport coats, pants, suits?

    I am 58 and will be 59 soon and I remember going to J.C. Penney’s and being fitted entirely for the school year.

    I have shopped at Kohl’s because J.C.Penney has gone to hell in a hand basket. The cashiers didn’t know the shirt sizes for large, extra large, (16 1/2 32-33 and such) Pretty dress shirts, NO POCKETS ON THE FRONT?

    Bozo the clown and his family must be running the retail stores in America……..

    Belk’s is not far behind……….

  6. Denver seems to be quite different. It blows me away that on the west side every mid-range restaurant is packed – even during the week! Is it feds? Is it war companies? I really don’t know, but Denver is booming. House prices as high as I’ve ever seen.

  7. No idiot here mentions about sin and having a the forbidden foreigner as mentioned in the Bible as your king, the illegal negro.

    Negroes are known throughout history as never having economic development as backward people. And as a sodomite he is an obamanation to the Lord, thy God!

  8. This is exactly the truth. So why do stocks keep going up? If you short the market tomorrow, it will go up 30 pts…..I’m a big believer in looking at the ‘micro’ to know the ‘macro’….businesses closed, empty parking lots, empty stores…..and this after an $800 billion stimulus when the President took over??…..when you hear rumors of Red Lobster going bankrupt, Quiznos, Sbarro, an on and on…..things are WAY worse than the stats show…..Keynsean economics would need a 4 TRILLION dollar stimulus, which would make inflation go ballistic………football season is simply a red-herring diverting our attention away from the pain……

  9. @Mile High
    There’s is an oil boom happening in parts of the country. Things are hopping there. Ever noticed what is happening just north of you? I am riding the oil play out in Okla while it lasts.

  10. Since 2008 – we have lost Home Depot, Penney’s, Sears, and a Sonic restaurant and White Castle opened and closed during that timeframe. We also lost a grocery. We have lost several small local businesses and most stores in our mall are gone. I was at the mall today and there was not one person in the hall/walkway all the way down to the only major store left.
    Government keeps painting a rosy picture because they are afraid there will be civil/social unrest if we knew the truth. People would be on edge from stress and panic.

  11. August Retail Sales: Post-Winter Bounce Fading Fast

    by Jeffrey P. Snider • September 12, 2014

    The retail sales release for August was actually quite alarming. The track of sales pretty much confirms the end of the spring “bounce” that showed up in Gallup’s figures, but the real concern is that the “bounce” itself was never more than a minor adjustment; an absence of further erosion as it were. That is nothing like what is being presented widely as the economics profession still clings to the notion that growth is accelerating and the recovery is right around the corner.

    If this is acceleration enough to qualify for a full recovery then definitions need as serious revisions as have been taken to GDP:

    The great recovery idea in 2014 was in comparison tiny and miniature to that of even 2008, a dubious place to start. Much has been made of revisions to auto sales in the past few months, but absent the overwhelming need to lease (rather than sell) cars consumer spending shows nothing but trouble (still).

    It appears that the peak of this “rebound” occurred in June, which is about the same point as established in the Gallup poll. Whatever the view of 2014’s ultimate path, August’s retail sales were among the worst of the recovery period, which is not something that should occur during unquestionable growth – to reiterate once more, a recovery or sustainable growth would see at least 6-9% Y/Y, with 6% as a floor. Instead, several of the retail figures were actually below 3% in August (and retail sales without food and ex autos was up only 1.96%, meaning negative when adjusting for prices) having not seen that 6% minimum since early 2012.

    Part of the attempt to disavow the unbiased weakness in same store sales was the proposition that consumers are shopping more and more online. And that is certainly true, but not even close to the extent being labeled as an offset to what are clear deficiencies. The August estimate for retail sales among nonstore retailers was the third lowest Y/Y growth since 2009. It is dreadfully clear in wider context that even online shopping is faltering not bolstering. The linkage is obviously consumers themselves absent actual income growth, and not shifting preferences.

    The wide similarities between what occurred after the housing bubble burst in 2006 and forward and the pattern of sales 2012 and forward is as compelling as it is worrisome. If you saw the results of 2006 until September 2008 you might be convinced that the economy, as represented by consumer spending, had undertaken a course of “muddle” growth – as it clearly downshifted but then entered a state of curious stasis whereby it seemed stuck without being able to enter a full upswing, but yet staying conspicuously out of contraction at the same time.

    That the same pattern is being repeated is the opposite of reassuring, as what took place after 2006 was that slow erosion of the elongated business cycle, undoubtedly a direct corruption of monetarism and financialism. The elongation looks minor in comparison now only because the depth of the Great Recession has skewed our view of the entire cycle looking backward.

    But there is no mistaking the similarities, especially when factoring price changes. What happened in late 2007 and early 2008 was that consumers were spending more and getting less, a form of erosion that does not fit within the comfortable confines of these kinds of results. Even deflating with the ill-suited and deficient CPI-U, however, shows very clearly this same type of slow erosion taking place in both the years immediately following 2006 and once again in the years immediately following 2012.

    When factoring employment “growth”, particularly the narrative about such robust expansion in 2014 during this “rebound” period, it clearly is absent from retail sales. Even taking into consideration any lags in spending behavior, economists have been talking about better employment for well over a year, with Ben Bernanke speaking directly about employment gains in justifying tapering QE as early as May 2013. If there were actual payroll gains, there should at least be some trickle of the “pay” part rather than simple focus on the “rolls.”

    If you adjust nominal retail sales by the number of payrolls estimated by the Establishment Survey, clearly there is something very wrong. Either consumers are not spending as much as they once were after obtaining a job, instead saving all this robust income generated by a strong jobs market, or the actual pay of these jobs is nothing like what it has been in “cycles” past. I find the latter far more compelling than the former, but there is also the very real possibility that such payroll expansion is simply a figment of statistical fancy and thus does not exist in the real economy.

    Again, this is not a trend that suddenly appeared in 2014. Whatever lags to spending via new jobs would have been made up by now, and accelerating payrolls should show up in accelerating spending – it has decidedly not. The chart above could not be clearer on that point. As with the rest of retail sales, and the other hard dollar figures like those of Target (which are pretty much confirmed by these retail sales numbers), the most meaningful interpretation is that of the comparison with 2006-08. The economy may be seeing some positive numbers in some places, but it is certainly heading in the wrong direction albeit perhaps imperceptibly to those not conditioned to think outside rigid sensitivities of what a cycle “should” look like.

    If we have learned anything in the age of activist central banks, it is that the business cycle itself has been transformed, but not to anything good or positive. Slow attrition is still attrition, and since compounding is the most powerful force in the universe, a la Einstein, the time component of this pattern is perhaps the most destructive feature of this elongation. It would be far better to undertake a short but even very sharp downturn than to exist perpetually in alternation between shallow contraction and nothing more than its absence.

  12. Dicks- a frickin Pittsburgh based store (What else needs to be said?). What a frickin joke. Go in there and look at running shoes for size 8.5. A common size right? Nothing in stock — I mean really? The superstore of sporting goods has not in stock on a Saturday? This retailer is part of the walking dead. And don’t get me started on Kohl’s with their once a day email blasts for 20-30 % off for their crap. Case in point, I buy 2 white polos a year from them because that is about how long they last. One year tops. Piece of crap retailer with as you say about 5 people in the store on a weekday .

  13. Say it ain’t so, Jim. We are about to see a grand opening of a two story Dick’s attached to AV Mall.
    They did quite a bit of construction to modify the old Harris/Gottschalks shell.

    They replaced the old brown tile from the 80’s at the Glendale Mall, now it enjoys the cross traffic from the Americana next door. Quite a lively scene but a few businesses on the other side of the Americana have closed, including Borders.

    They expanded the Nordstrom in The Grove. It was packed but the gays are less conspicuous and Chinese are more visible. I saw one Chinese girl that I know I have been dreaming of all my life. There were more Chinese women in cocktail dresses, heels and LV purses. Very impressive. My buddy Heidy said if you notice people’s defects, it means you are looking too close. I really liked them and was probably looking too closely because I noticed the LV purses looked more worn than my wife’s everyday black Coach bag. (She keeps her MK bag in new condition).

  14. Hi –

    In direct correlation to the info above, my research indicates that at a minimum somewhere around 1-billion square feet of retail shopping centers are going to be closed down because they are no longer financially viable. As this happens it means there is going to be a whole lot of loans that financed these centers that is going to go into default. Eventually and in normal times, this bad debt will be written. However in today’s upside down world, who knows how this is going to be handled.

    But what I do know is that one of the biggest investors in shopping centers is the Life Insurance industry. So for any of you who pay for life insurance, please be ware of your company’s financial involvement in commercial retail space.


  15. The best part is that Wall Street has pumped Kohl’s up to a 5 year high. The muppets will be left dead in the street again.


  16. Meanwhile, in the real world their sales are flat over the last three years and profits have declined by 24%.

    To make up for this dreadful performance the CEO has bought back 80 million shares of stock for $5.4 billion.

    American retail at its finest.

  17. Your comment about it being your responsibility to enter IKEA’s data for government number crunchers confirms my darkest suspicions about this process and those ISM/PMI diffusion indexes Wall St puts so much faith in. I suspect it is subject to the same sort of bias found in consumer surveys newspapers and other companies attempt to gather from their customers. No one wants to look bad, even anonymously, so when people are asked to report their annual income, e.g., how many are going to report they are at the bottom.

  18. As a follow up to Dick’s. I go into the store once a when I am at the fake lifestyle center. They used to have a much ballyhood rock wall you can climb–now gone. You go up to 2nd floor and voila– I see the same frickin winter jackets- I mean literally the same ones to the touch that were unsold from last year and the year before. I mean does this store sell anything? Outside of a few people buying the latest Nike street sneakers-there is absolutely nothing going on this store. How this store and chain are still around is beyond me. I would NOT be shareholder in this disaster in the making.

  19. My area hasn’t been hit too bad with retail vacancies, though I have noticed an increase. The real warning sign here is lack of business growth. In a county that had 600,000 residents in the year 2000 but exploded to 1 million just a few years later, it’s deeply troubling that few new shopping areas have opened.

  20. None of the actual problems that led to the 2008 economic implosion have even been acknowledged, much less resolved. The glorious government seems to hope that an endless stream of bullshit is a solution to our various problems.

  21. Found your website from Zero Hedge posting your article. I live near you, and have a son who moved to Denver last year (waves to MileHIghs!). Philly is dying, and living here I thought everything was going down the tube. Then I saw Denver. We have been out there 2x to visit and it’s like a miracle! There are cranes (high rises going up) EVERYWHERE. Son got a nice high rise apt. (with gym and indoor pool and parking lot of course) for what he would have paid for a ROOM in Philly. And no where to park. They had over 200 restaurants open in Denver LAST YEAR. And they are FULL.

    Lockheed Martin in Newtown closed down this year and moved to Denver. Of course. It’s a tech job mecca. Everyone there is all cheery, and active, THIN, and young. It’s like going to another planet. The week before Christmas the Home Depot had SOLD OUT of Christmas stuff. Walked in expected to see tons of ornaments and found them cleaning up the last few bits of tinsel. My jaw just about hit the floor. Philly may be the next Detroit. Look at the school problems.

  22. Hey all,the truth is a mxed bag…I work for the 3rd largest retailer on the planet(a UK company,have done for 27 years)and our sales are collapsing…same as most other retailers.However, I am fortunate enough to work for their online grocery division which is by far and away the largest grocery online retailer on the planet,I was at a meeting in Edinburgh recently and they told us that store sales are flat/negative company wide,and the ONLY growth in the company was online…I see the reports every week ,and I can tell you all..sales are boomng at +20% a year..evey year for the last 8 years I have worked in this area..and it is accelerating.I am not for a minute saying the economy is good,because it is not.What I am saying,in my opinion is that it is a combination of the economy being crap,and in retail in particular..the way people shop has changed FOREVER.I don’t just think this,i see it every day in my job.Every now and then(due to sickness etc),I have to go out in the van and make deliveries,and when I talk to the customers it’s a resounding theme…convenience,time saving,money saving(fuel costs,especially in rural areas)they love it.I have been in retail for nearly 30 years and I have never seen change on the scope and especially the SPEED,as what I am seeing now.The economy is poor at BEST..combine that with change on a massive scale and short timeline…it ain’t going to be pretty.Thank you all for your time

  23. Jim, I found out from Bradsdeals that Kohl’s had towels on sale for about $3 after all their discounts.
    In store, they also had them on sale for $2.99. Then they went back up to $9.99 and this week they are back on sale for $4.49 which means you’ll pay $3. if you use a 30% coupon.
    I also notice there’s a heavy employee turnover, I mean, I notice they have different people there each week. I wonder why.

  24. Don’t believe all the news or comments you read about US retailers being in trouble.

    My where-the-rubber-hits-the-road sources at St. Vincent dePaul, the Salvation Army, the Opportunity Center, the Thrift Store, and the Humane Society tell me that business is good and their retail sales have never been higher.

  25. Speaking of “Dicks”, here in Socal we once had a chain of sporting goods stores called “Chicks”. But looks like they were bought out by “Dicks”. When I noted this I told my wife. She said it was “Chicks with Dicks”. WTF!
    Great article, admin, now crossposted & #2 at ZH.

  26. Tallahassee is doing OK because we have State Gov’t, FSU. FAMU, several community and private colleges, two large hospitals, a busy airport, I-10, etc. However, growth outside Tally has been zilch for 50 years, a large mall has closed, and crime is increasing. Obola has mutated and is destroying America.

  27. Northern Colorado you would never know people were suffering. Of course there are, but others go about eating out, movies, etc, Sports Activities mostly. Average home in my tiny town is over 250,000.

  28. That image with “a lie is a lie even if everyone believes it” is wrong. A lie is an untruth told knowingly – but if everyone believes an untruth, the teller of the untruth does too. If everyone believes something it can still be wrong but by definition it cannot be a lie.

    That’s no quibble. Would you rather you were being lied to by knaves who might one day be kept honest, or being misled by sincere fools who are already doing the best they ever could? There’s a real, practical difference as well as a moral distinction.

  29. Right on target . . . I wrote a paper a couple years ago about how the average American will not be able to pay their bills by 2020 (many will be bankrupt by 2018). By using US Government documents, the author projects life year-by-year out to 2020 to see how the standard of living changes. Input into the personal budget include UN food cost projections, healthcare increases, Consumer Price Index increases, housing price changes, etc.

    Check it out: http://www.scribd.com/doc/107058480/Life-in-2020

  30. “Retail” outlets around my neck of the woods have booming sales! Just take a visit to your local swap meet, flea market or thrift store. Lots of shoppers every weekend. When people have no money to spend, that’s where they spend it. They just “might” find something made in America to purchase, especially if it’s 20 years old and still in working condition.

    They are also “onto” the high markups in large department stores, and no longer want to play the game of paying for all that retail space and fancy decor, not to mention the clerks with “dumb looks” when asked a question. (the dumbing down of America has really taken hold, so I find myself being frustrated with the level of stupidity every time I ask a clerk a question.)

    That’s why they buy online now more than ever. The overhead of being an online seller is “stupidly low”. The future of retail is online, and at low buck shopping venues, dusty clothing spread out on tarps in parking lots and land space. Time to invest in some acreage and set up shop? Perhaps…

    Brick and mortar is the “old way” of doing retail business. Most of the big box stores are simply “showrooms” for the buyer to see and touch the items, before they go home, and buy the item online.

  31. Propagandists don’t have to “fleece” any sheep here in the United States! The american mind has
    already been put in its place by force some time ago when after two ‘rebellions’ (Shay’s in 1787
    and the so called ‘Whiskey’ Rebellion of 1791-94 which have been omitted from our history texts
    for the most part ) occurred, sitting president Washington in full military regalia led 15,000 federal troops to personally smash the latter of these two occurrences! The american mind has been quite reliable no doubt for that reason and quite sheepishly compliant with whatever tasty manure their masters evacuate at their pleasure including the lying fairy tale hatched at Jekyll Island that promised to restrain greedy bankers and led to the creation of the Federal Reserve Board in 1913! The rest is an historic trail of boom-bust economic instability confirmed not only by The Ron Nelson Elliott Wave Theory, but any of a number of other forensic economic studies and research on the subject.


    RadioShack shares rally after CFO resigns

    By Tomi Kilgore

    Published: Sept 15, 2014 7:15 a.m. ET

    NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Shares of RadioShack RSH, -10.78% rallied 15% to trade back above the $1 mark in Monday’s premarket, after the troubled consumer electronics retailer said its chief financial officer, John Feray, resigned on Sept. 12 for personal reasons. The company named Holly Etlin, currently a managing director at AlixPartners and a RadioShack advisor, as interim CFO. Etlin was interim CFO from July 2013 to February 2014. Last week, RadioShack said it was seeking more capital as it reported disappointing second-quarter results. The stock closed Friday at 91 cents, up 65% since the Aug. 4 closing low of 55 cents, but was still down 65% year to date.

  33. Up here in the tundra of Minnesota things “appear” to be doing well if you know where to go. Major construction at a regional mall to add a Nordstrom while Macys is just wrapping up their own big time refresh. Drove by this weekend and the parking lot was pretty full for a late summer (i.e. fall like) day. On Wednesday tried to go to a new Yard House restaurant (Darden brand) and they had a 2 HOUR WAIT at 7pm on a WEDNESDAY!!??!! Obviously someone is out spending money.

    That is evidence only of a tale of two cities. I know of many older and lower income areas where the retail is dead or dying. Going another direction from my house to a different, lower income, retail zone we are met with a large “power center” where +50% is vacant. $5 Hot-n-ready pizzas from Little Caesars seemed to be the only draw. The Target store on the end is a favorite of the fiance because it’s never busy (unlike the ones in the more affluent areas).

    The culture of “spend-it-if-you-got-it” is alive and well and apparently the poor folks don’t got it.

  34. It’s not “the economy”. People will always need to buy food and clothes and office supplies and tools, etc. etc.

    The biggest debacles I see in retail: Stores not carrying what I want; not carrying quality merchandise.

    Stores not being well-stocked- are always out-of-stock on the items they normally carry, which I go there for.

    The atmosphere in many stores is abhorrent! Loud annoying music playing; 400 lb. cretins who can’t walk, motoring around in electric carts while their demon-spawn kids run rampant….

    Long lines/poor customer service/idiot employees, who can’t figure 10% of a round number!

    And….too many of the same store in markets that can barely support one store!

    Ask me where I’d go to buy clothes these days? I don’t know! No one sells what I want within a 100 mile radius of where I live! I buy practically everything on-line these days…and even then, it’s a struggle to find what I want!

    Bottom line: These MBAs and marketing directors don’t have a clue!

  35. I wondered, too, when I passed by nice restaurants during the bottoming economy and saw lots of people eating and drinking there. On further reflection, I considered what might become a trend with younger people. Once you have what I might call necessities-plus (food, clothing, shelter, and transporation being the necessities; high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi enabled smartphone being the plus), why would you need to buy more? Who cares what your furniture looks like back at your crib when you can hit the coolest clubs, restaurants, galleries, and concerts? So many of us are so hyperconnected, but unconnected, to so many more of us, that once we have telecommunication with our acquaintances figured out, our lives alone, in solitude, don’t matter so much when it comes to possessions.

  36. I live in the East Bay. This place is smoking, let me tell you. I do not cross to the city side much, but let me tell you about Emeryville, the home of Pixar. This place is popping. The Best Buy, the Home Depot, the Target, the Pak n Save, Ikea, innumerable restaurants, etc. They are all busy. Just a 5 minute drive from West Oakland which, in certain areas, resembles a third world country (massive trash piles in the street etc). They are trying to displace all of the residents and put in a massive development that would serve as the central hub for those priced out of SF. Of course, it will price every one else out.

    Speaking of a tale of two cities, I’d love to write a little about this place sometime if anyone cares to read a cynical take on the Bay Area.

    BTW admin if you read this post – if you aren’t making any money from this site could you please strip off the adverts for the mobile platforms? It is making it hard for me to read when I’m not in front of a pc.

  37. Kohls regularly has 30% off deals , and it is not unusual for them to have many clearance racks at seasonal turning points such as now .

    That’s not meant to insinuate that they’re doing well , their “regular prices” are so high that
    for entertainment , I just watch people buying stuff there in amazement , wondering if they’re retarded or something , I think their “regular” prices are the clearance prices and the 30% off specials plus a coupon , as probably most of their sales are derived from those type of “gimmick” purchases .

    1. When Kohl’s is doing well they send out 15% off coupons. When they are doing poorly they send out 30% coupons.

      They always have clearance racks, but there are usually 3 or 4 racks in the men’s section.

      This weekend there were two dozen clearance racks.

      It is unusual to have that much summer merchandise in mid-September.

      There was very little Fall merchandise.

      Kohl’s is in trouble and their 3rd quarter results will be a disaster. Book it Dano.

  38. The problem is the general public has experienced a large decrease in disposable income.
    This has occurred as the government has instituted Obamacare and reduced that income.
    Unless something occurs to put that disposable income back in the pockets of the general public the result will be the greatest depressed economy in history.
    If you have no money left to spend, the retailers will go broke.
    I use WalMart as an example of a retail store competing on the basis of volume to keep prices at the lowest level of any store out there.
    Dollar Tree is another example of retail goods at the lowest possible price.
    When these stores go broke the rest are surely going to follow.
    I see no sign of either store going broke anywhere soon in our area.
    We are a military town. Those people seldom get laid off. Those on military pensions will have money. Our WalMart has a problem. Not enough cashiers to check everyone out.
    But if I went to one of the giant retail clothing outlets like Kohls, Bon Ton, or even Target, an entirely different story occurs. Sears and KMart? Kmart might survive. Sears is over priced and they know it.
    At one time in our history Sears was a huge success story.
    They fell on their sword when they removed a local parts place from the store chain. Now you order on line. That in turn killed a portion of their appliance business.
    They fell on their sowrds when everything has to be ordered online.
    To a lesser extent, all retail outlets are going broke because of not keeping goods in inventory. Rather you have to order a lot of things on-line.
    On paper it works. Customer sales tell an entirely different story.
    The main problem is the government deciding what is good for us.
    In that effort, the government is breaking the finances of the general market place. If you have no money to spend, you have maxed out your credit, the only place fore retail to go is broke.

  39. As I said , my comment wasn’t to go towards their financial condition , they very well may be in
    trouble , but I have regulary received 15 , 20 , or 30% off coupons randomly interspersed with each other for years , along with $10 of anything in the store coupons for years .

    That’s the only reason I go there , I buy clearance items with the $10 off so they’re just about free , the % off amount doesn’t even matter because that’s calculated after the $10 off is applied .

    2 dozen racks is a lot , but last week my local Kohls had unusually few , so leftover stock may be segmented by location .
    I’m going back tomorrow to use a couple of $10 off , and 20% off coupons , just curious if those clearance racks have balooned by now .

  40. …..I am a retired US DoD…”Federally Protected Whistle-Blower”…who worked in the US Military Retail System…I know a lot about government corruption and a great deal about economics and the business world…I wrote an essay a few years ago titled…”Thrift Store America”…in which you could already see the beginnings of what Ross Perot predicted in 1992….your government has sold you out…and it is only going to get worse as the dollar users desperation grows….and then the dollar collapses…you think there is inflation now…or inventory disruptions now…Ha! Just wait…..and check out “Thrift Store America” online (it still comes up if you search for it)…you will also see what I think we should do with our political leadership…

    RJ O’Guillory
    Webster Groves – The Life of an Insane Family

  41. Some of you are East Coasters, some from the Middle West, even one from Denver. Retail is the same in L.A. An economist from before Obama wrote that none of the economic problems from 2006 on have been resolved. They are being recycled.
    Nothing is changed
    Howard Johnson

  42. I am just a truck driver, but I have a B.S. in Business, and I get all over the country. What I see is massive overbuilding in strip malls. I see them going up in lots of places even now. What I also see is shoppers with money are not going there any more. I see outlet centers in all the wealthy suburbs, and they are doing well. They really do not want to shop with the common rabble, the kind of people you see in Wal Mart.

    Unfortunately, the most dominant trend I see in most areas is white flight, yes, more white flight, and more sprawl into the outer exurbs. Chicago is metasticizing almost 100 miles south! All kinds of new subdivisions and new retail going up in what was corn fields last year. Same in Houston, where a THIRD bypass look is being built, and on and on it goes.

    The money is moving farther out, and also the wheel of retailing keeps turning. They are not shopping in the same places. Some of that is online, but the premium outlet centers are booming.

    99% of this stuff moves by truck, so you might follow the American Trucking Association’s indices. I have found them to be accurate.. Year over year, we have been flat in trucking, in tonnage and in dollars. As you point out, inflation is at least 5%, so there you have it.

  43. I think I was in Kohls once or twice about 15 years ago. Don’t remember buying anything from them.

    The last time I was in a JC Penny was also about 15 years ago.

    I don’t suppose I’ve been in a Sears since, um 1985?

    Doesn’t look like I’m going to be saving any of their shitteous businesses. Apparently I have plenty of company.

  44. Sears: The end is coming soon

    by John Ruberry | September 14th, 2014

    “‘Vanity of vanities,” saith the Preacher, “vanity of vanities; all is vanity.’”
    Ecclesiastes 1-2.

    There are many great American business success stories–and the rise of Sears, Roebuck and Company is one of the more compelling tales.

    The last few pages of the book on Sears are blank–and the ending is not going to be a happy one.

    Richard Sears, like many entrepreneurs, started small. The Minnesota railroad station agent first sold watches to other rail agents in 1886. After moving his business to Chicago and partnering with watch repairer Alvah Curtis Roebuck in the 1890s, the company created the legendary Sears catalog, where one could buy the 19th century version of everything. Because Richard grew up on a farm, he picked items for the catalog that he knew would appeal to farmers and small-town Americans.

    In 1908, Sears created the build-it-yourself house kit–over 70,000 Sears homes were constructed. In 1925, Sears opened department stores and after World War II it successfully rode the wave of suburbanization that crosstown rival Montgomery Ward missed.

    But rural America, which was once Sear’s base market, didn’t vanish–and it was in the countryside where Walmart founded in 1962. By 1990, Walmart surpassed Sears as America’s largest retailer, and the onetime behemoth has been struggling ever since. Kmart, another troubled retailer, merged with Sears ten years ago–creating Sears Holdings. The union was similar to a marriage between members of two cash-poor aristocratic families whose chief asset was their names.

    Last week Fitch downgraded Sears bond-rating to Double-C, which according to Michael Aneiro of Barron’s, is “essentially the sub-basement of the speculative-grade ratings scale.”

    Crain’s Chicago Business’ Joe Cahill speculates that the debt load could put the “closed” sign forever on Sears and its family of stores by 2016.

    Three years ago, after threatening to move its headquarters out of Illinois, the state legislature gave $150 million in tax breaks to Sears Holdings so it would stay in the Prairie State.

    What a waste of money that was.

  45. What amazes me, is how Sears has held on this long!

    I bought a 1611KJV Bible facsimile last week- brand new on Ebay- $92.

    While farting around on the web, I came across the very same book for sale at Sears…….take a guess how much they were selling it for?

    $512 !!!!!!!!!!! (And you can buiy it direct from the publisher’s retail site for $179)

    It’s been down-hill for Sears ever since they dropped Winnie The Pooh as their mascot!

  46. @BEANO

    Have you ever visited the Caribbean?
    Many Islands are governed by ‘negroes’….
    Those Islands have some of the HIGHEST standards of living in the entire world.
    Only an extreme IDIOT blab such IGNORANCE.
    Many ‘negroes’ run successful businesses in your own backyard(USA) – its not on TV.

    Many more ‘negroes’ would have been successful, if comprehending a ‘BUSINESS PLAN’ was
    a part of the CURRICULUM….child support and other legal nuisances weren’t economic road blocks…and the so-called ‘WAR ON DRUGS’, wasn’t so unfair – made your family richer.

    Visit Antigua, Barbados, Trinidad etc. – you might eat your words.


    Sears borrows $400 million from CEO’s hedge fund

    By Suzanne Kapner

    Published: Sept 16, 2014 3:43 a.m. ET

    Sears Holdings Corp. is borrowing $400 million from Chief Executive Edward Lampert’s hedge fund, giving the retailer an infusion for the holidays after it burned through cash over the summer.

    The loan is being made by entities affiliated with Lampert’s ESL Investments Inc. and secured by 25 of the company’s properties, Sears SHLD, -6.58% said in a securities filing on Monday.

    The loan will mature on Dec. 31, though that could be extended until Feb. 28, assuming Sears doesn’t violate the terms of the loan.

    The arrangement underscores the deep and unusual relationship between the hedge fund and the brand. Sears has shed sales, staff and market value amid what critics say has been a lack of investment by Lampert.

    Sears recorded a loss of nearly $1 billion in the six months through Aug. 2, extending a string of losses, as revenue fell more than 8%.

    Sears had said it planned to raise $1 billion this year, a goal that it has now met with the $400 million ESL loan plus $665 million that the retailer had raised by spinning off its Lands’ End division to shareholders and selling some real estate.

  48. @RichieRich: LOL! Try going outside of the white-people compounds/resorts! The people there are living in shacks and shanties, in crime-infested slums, on ther brink of starvation, just like they do in Africa or Detroit or The Bronx……. Go where the common people actually live….you likely won’t return- you’ll end up in a pot of “honky stew”.

  49. I hate to take advantage of a company’s downfall, but times aren’t getting any cheaper, so I, for one, am thankful that Kohl’s sent me a 30% coupon.

    My little miss has decided to shoot up in size, she shot right past the pants that were still too big at the end of the last school year.

    Thank you 50% off sales combined with 30% coupons! AND a zero balance card so I can pay it off the day after I make the purchase. Woot! Woot! Oops, sorry to any future unemployed Kohls’ employees.

  50. @TE – Likewise. I’ve been slowly losing weight over the last 5 years, and I’ve had to replace my wardrobe a couple times now. I’m wearing 90% kohl’s clothing right now.

  51. Just got back from Kohls .

    Bought 2 $28 wallets for a $1.60 credit each .
    Yes , that’s credit , were $8.40 on clearance , and I bought each with a “$10 off any purchase
    coupon” (got 2 in the mail) , so they’re paying me $3.20 in credit to take the stuff for free .

    And the checkout person didn’t bother to take one of the $10 coupons , so I picked it back up and used it again , bought a $46 bathing suit for $2.25 with it on clearance .

    Dont see how they stay in business , unless a lot of people actually buy their incredibly overpriced stuff at retail , but there weren’t any more closeout racks than there have been over the years ,
    and I know their deals , these 30% off plus $10 off $50 , etc. are not new , they’re the same they’ve always been .

  52. Well, the berber carpet is in and it looks GORGEOUS.

    This will make Admin very happy. In about 5 minutes we are leaving to go to ……… IKEA. Gonna get some bookshelves.

    Go Nazis!!!!

    1. I can’t wait to hear about the missing pieces and horrible customer service from the good old Elizabeth NJ store. Did I mention it is built on a toxic waste dump and they vent methane through the light posts in the parking lot?

  53. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a
    really well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark
    it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.

    I’ll definitely comeback.

  54. I am genuinely pleased to glance at this website posts which contains lots of valuable
    information, thanks for providing such statistics.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.