Friday, November 29, 2013

Sluggish Retail

Last year, at this time, I published a graphic showing the monthly retail sales of General Merchandise Stores—by way of illustrating the problems faced by retail trade—yes, even in this, the biggest, selling season of the year (link).

I thought that I would show an updated version of that chart. Here it is:

Last year I only had a few early months of 2012 to show. This time I show all of 2012 as well as results for 2013 through September.

Note particularly that these stores did better than in the earlier year in 2010, 2011, and in 2012. But when we look at 2013, the values achieved in that year fall right at, below, or slightly above the sales performance in 2012 all depending on the month. You might say that no real growth is showing at all. This explains the hysteria behind the Black Friday sales campaigns that I noted in the last post.

To illustrate 2012 and 2013 performance more sharply, herewith a bar graph, by month, of sales up to September. I have include two trend lines. The top line represents 2012, the lower line 2013. Note that trends in 2013 are lower—suggesting, if things continue in the same way for the rest of 2013, that this year will come in worse than last. Not the time to be in the retail business nowadays, as I heard a fellow analyst (and family member) say just yesterday. No. And these days the reliable alternative occupation, somewhere in Health Care, also looks rather dicey…

The data used in this analysis come from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, here, showing various sources of retail data.

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