Friday, December 13, 2013

Whistling Past the Register

It is that time of year.  Talking heads talking up the holiday sales season in the teeth of really bad numbers. 

Forbe's does a decent job of cheer leading without actually lying:
On the surface, it appears sales have been
reasonably strong, with the National Retail Federation (NRF) reporting November sales up 3.9% against last year and expectations that the season will net out at or above  the trade association’s holiday forecast, which was also for 3.9% growth.   These numbers exclude automobiles, gas station and restaurant sales.  On the surface, this is very good news for retailers and consumers alike, as retailers pulled out all their promotional stops, and consumers hopped on board to grab the deals.
According to the U.S Census Bureau sales report the most robust year-over-year gains were seen in big ticket sellers like electronics and appliance stores (+8% over last year), and furniture and home furnishing stores (9.4% over last year). That means chains like Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Best Buy and hh Gregg have had a top-line feast.  My take on this is that the rebounding housing market is driving high-value purchases for the home.  When you realize you’ve actually got some equity in your home again, it’s exciting to go out and buy something to put in it.
The most anemic increases were seen by general merchandise stores (think Target). 

Directly contrast that with:

Wealthy Go Frugal This Holiday Amid Uneven U.S. Recovery

While the most well-heeled shoppers still think nothing of dropping $4,600 on an Hermes tote, cracks have appeared in the $94 billion U.S. luxury market, especially for companies that cater to “Henrys” -- High Earners Not Rich Yet. Coach Inc. (COH) has said customers plan to spend less on gifts and that mall traffic fell sharply last month. Analysts predict Nordstrom Inc. (JWN)’s fourth-quarter sales may grow less than half the year-ago pace of 6.1 percent. Tiffany & Co. (TIF)’s third-quarter comparable sales in the Americas were barely higher. Even before Black Friday, Saks Inc., Neiman Marcus Group Inc. and Nordstrom offered 40 percent off on many brands.


 And trite it may be but the weather sucks.  It will make a difference in a short season. 


sk said...

hey RD - thanks for asking after me some posts back. I've been back for a couple of weeks. I read your blog regularly and wish it well. I'm can't yet find a succinct way of describing the visit to India. Every visit changes me a little. So I have to figure that change in me out a bit more first before I comment on what I saw, heard etc... Separately, as regards HCN - its just history now. but the way people got their knickers in a twist when their Democrat-wing shibboleths were challenged from a Third World perspective was very educational. I recall that Mary asked me a couple of times - why do I bother to comment ? A great question and for that audience its true - Its just not worth the bother. I look forward to commenting on-topic in your blog every so often.

Rob Dawg said...

Most excellent. Always good stuff to talk about. See a few posts back the shift in reporting bias for initial claims? Doesn't take a math genius but it helps.

The blog is doing good and getting better every week. It's all about content and presentation. Something you know a bit about.

sm_landlord said...

I'm afraid that I won't be contributing much to the promotional retail economy for the rest of the year, but I am definitely dumping funds into the economy. Just installed 7 new servers at the data center, and spending about $30K on labor and materials for an apartment remodel. We had Plumbegeddon in SM last week, as a crew of incompetent plumbers totally bungled a copper repipe job. One of the plumbers went to jail after he nailed a bicyclist and then crashed into a parked car with his truck while running out to buy parts (and, uh, "load up" apparently).

The rest of the year looks like more remodeling fun and a bunch of security patches, as one of our Wordpress servers was hacked and get this: the hack-bot installed a daemon to compute Bitcoin hashes! Ludicrous, of course, since you would have to hack several hundred servers to get the hashing throughput of a single ASIC-based mining box... but whatever.


sm_landlord said...

Choo-choo-to-the-sea update:

The intersection of Eleventh and Colorado in SM was closed for construction today, and to my horror, it looks like they are laying rail AT GRADE right down the middle of Colorado Avenue.

As if SM did not have enough traffic trouble, it appears that Colorado Avenue will now bisect the city further into North and South, with rolling stock ready to randomly t-bone automobiles and cream pedestrians who dare to cross the boundary.

Meanwhile, the city has narrowed the North/South through streets to add bicycle lanes at the expense of traffic lanes, which are now too narrow for the truck traffic.

This is not going to end well. So glad I do not live here any more.

Rob Dawg said...

Ahhh the Expo Line. Finished on time, under budget and experiencing higher than projected ridership. After adjusting down each m3easure at least four time apiece.

This is going to surpass Houston as a wham bam tram.

sm_landlord said...

I am just starting to read the 2013/2014 Global Fraud Report from Kroll. It's only about corporate fraud though.

Does anyone publish a similar report on Government Fraud? I still have not managed to replace the health insurance that I was promised that I could keep.

Obama is going to have a hard time getting a better rap from historians than Nixxon did...