Holiday Retail Sales a Bust

Remember before the holidays the press headlines were not about the long term unemployed, or that 50% of Americans make less than $26,261 a year, or how 14% of Americans are on food stamps, and to qualify for food stamps, you are dirt poor, really broke.

Nope, the major press kept on pounding some consumer mirage that Americans were out shopping in droves. Guess what? December retail sales are a bust.

From Oct. 31-Jan. 1, holiday revenue at stores open at least a year rose 3.8 percent over last year, according to an index compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers. The figure is the biggest increase since 2006, when it rose 4.4 percent.

The index tailed off to a 3.1 percent increase in December after a 5.4 percent rise in November.

According to MarketWatch, here are the losers in retail sales:

Against high expectations for a brighter holiday season, more retailers reported shortfalls than upside surprises in December sales Thursday, raising concerns that profit-eroding discounts may increase in January to clear excess inventory.

Misses were across the board from a variety of retailers, including discounters Target Corp. and Family Dollar Stores Inc., drugstore chain Walgreen Co., warehouse clubs Costco Wholesale Corp.,BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. and teen retailers Wet Seal Inc., Zumiez Inc. and Aeropostale Inc.

While that obsessive-compulsive psycho lady ad Target ran incessantly is enough to scare anyone off (is that catching?), their December sales only gained 0.9%. GAP sales fell 3% and they heavily discounted to boot.

Wal-Mart hasn't reported yet, and many are blaming the weather. The good news for bargain hunters is now retailers have excess inventory they must shed, which implies some rock bottom prices in January and February.

All of these reports are expectation misses. Overall holiday sales did increase, but the irrational exuberance of the press, trying to imply a recovery that isn't, plus the analyst hype that magically the squeezed and broke U.S. worker has some money in their pocket, helped with the big disappointment on missed sales numbers.

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