AntiChrist

According to the latest Gallup Poll, Obama’s approval rating is now 39%.

Not only is this the lowest rating he’s ever received, it is also lower than George W. Bush’s in December 2005 when Bush admitted that the decision to invade Iraq had been based on intelligence that “turned out to be wrong.”

And so, consistent with his psychopathology and although he is half-white, Obama is now resorting to the perennial excuse of blacks. It’s RAAAACISM! Of course, that doesn’t explain how millions of “racist” whites could have elected him to be POTUS in 2008 and reelected him in 2012. [snark]

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At the same time as he is blaming his falling approval rating on RAAAACISM!, Obama is retreating even more into his make-believe world of grandiose fantasies.

As reported by a fawning David Remnick for The New Yorker, at a fundraiser appearance in the palatial, 27,000+ sq. ft. home of tech millionaire Jon Shirley on Lake Washington in Medina, a suburb of Seattle, Washington, Obama claimed “the economic rescue, the forty-four straight months of job growth” as among his achievements.

That’s a lie.

As I had reported in my post of Jan. 10, 2014, “Record number of Americans (92m) not in labor force,” despite the Fed having spending over $1 trillion in 2013 to “stimulate” the economy, there were fewer jobs created in 2013 than in 2012.

And yet Obama says the U.S. economy is doing just great!

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The man is either lying through his teeth or he’s so delusional, he requires a straitjacket. There’s of course a third alternative: He’s both.

The reality is the economy is not just not doing well, it is tanking.

How do we know that?

Because retail sales — on which the U.S. economy depends, consumer spending accounting for 70% of America’s GDP – are in a downward death spiral.

We’ll begin with two of America’s retail giants that are virtually bankrupt in all but in name: JCPenney and Sears.

1. JCPenney

See my post on “JCPenney closing 33 stores and laying off 2,000 employees.”

2. Sears

Michael Snyder writes for The Economic Collapse that sales have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row – that’s 6+ years! — and the legendary retailer has been closing hundreds of stores and selling off property in a frantic attempt to turn things around. Unfortunately for Sears, it is not working. In fact, Sears has announced that it expects to lose “between $250 million to $360 million” for the quarter that will end on February 1st.

I haven’t been to Sears for years, but Snyder reports that a couple of months ago  he walked into a Sears store in the middle of the week and “it was like a ghost town. A few associates were milling around here and there having private discussions among themselves, but other than that it was eerily quiet.”

CNBC reports that on Jan. 21, 2014, Sears said it will close its flagship store in downtown Chicago in April. It’s the latest of about 300 store closures in the U.S. that Sears has made since 2010. 

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3. Best Buy

Snyder reports that the CEO of Best Buy recently admitted that sales had declined at his chain during the all-important Christmas holiday season “due to intense discounting by rivals, supply constraints for key products and weak traffic in December.” In the immediate aftermath of that announcement, Best Buy stock was down more than 30% in pre-market trading.

4. Macy’s

Macy’s just announced that it is laying off 2,500 employees in an attempt to move in a more profitable direction.

5. Target

Today come reports that Target will eliminate 475 jobs at its Minnesota headquarters.

JCPenney, Sears, Best Buy, Macy’s, and Target are anchor stores for America’s shopping malls. Ask yourself what will happen to those malls when those anchors are gone. Ask yourself what will happen to the government’s revenue base when those employees who’ve been laid off from those anchor stores no longer pay income taxes.

6. But it’s not just JCPenney, Sears, Best Buy, Macy’s and Target, America’s retailers in general are in trouble.

Jim Quinn writes for The Burning Platform, Jan. 19, 2014 (h/t Zero Hedge):

If ever a chart provided unequivocal proof the economic recovery storyline is a fraud, the one below is the smoking gun. November and December retail sales account for 20% to 40% of annual retail sales for most retailers. The number of visits to retail stores has plummeted by 50% since 2010. Please note this was during a supposed economic recovery. […] Even the heavyweights like Wal-Mart and Target continue to report negative comp store sales. How can the government and mainstream media be reporting an economic recovery when the industry that accounts for 70% of GDP is in free fall? 

retail sales

As you can see in the bar graphs above (click image to enlarge), U.S. retail foot traffic in the pivotal Christmas sales months of November-December, has gone down every year — from 30.4 billion shoppers in 2010, to 20.4 billion in 2011, to 20.1 billion in 2012, to 17.6 billion in 2013.

At the same time, being in deep denial, retailers actually increased retail space by 43.8 million square feet in 2013!

And why are U.S. retail sales continuing to fall?

The explanation is simple. As Michael Snyder explains, a new Gallup survey has found that the number of Americans (42%) who are “financially worse off” than a year ago is significantly higher than the number of Americans (a little more than a third) who say they are “financially better off” than a year ago. “That is why these stores are dying.”

Jim Quinn grimly observes:

The absolute collapse in retail visitor counts is the warning siren that this country is about to collide with the reality Americans have run out of time, money, jobs, and illusions. The most amazingly delusional aspect to the chart above is retailers continued to add 44 million square feet in 2013 to the almost 15 billion existing square feet of retail space in the U.S. That is approximately 47 square feet of retail space for every person in America. Retail CEOs are not the brightest bulbs in the sale bin, as exhibited by the CEO of Target and his gross malfeasance in protecting his customers’ personal financial information. Of course, the 44 million square feet added in 2013 is down 85% from the annual increases from 2000 through 2008. The exponential growth model, built upon a never ending flow of consumer credit and an endless supply of cheap fuel, has reached its limit of growth. The titans of Wall Street and their puppets in Washington D.C. have wrung every drop of faux wealth from the dying middle class. There are nothing left but withering carcasses and bleached bones.

The impact of this retail death spiral will be vast and far reaching.A few factoids will help you understand the coming calamity:

  • There are approximately 109,500 shopping centers in the United States ranging in size from the small convenience centers to the large super-regional malls.
  • There are in excess of 1 million retail establishments in the United States occupying 15 billion square feet of space and generating over $4.4 trillion of annual sales. This includes 8,700 department stores, 160,000 clothing & accessory stores, and 8,600 game stores.
  • U.S. shopping-center retail sales total more than $2.26 trillion, accounting for over half of all retail sales.
  • The U.S. shopping-center industry directly employed over 12 million people in 2010 and indirectly generated another 5.6 million jobs in support industries. Collectively, the industry accounted for 12.7% of total U.S. employment.
  • Total retail employment in 2012 totaled 14.9 million, lower than the 15.1 million employed in 2002.
  • For every 100 individuals directly employed at a U.S. regional shopping center, an additional 20 to 30 jobs are supported in the community due to multiplier effects.

The collapse in foot traffic to the 109,500 shopping centers that crisscross our suburban sprawl paradise of plenty is irreversible.No amount of marketing propaganda, 50% off sales, or hot new iGadgets is going to spur a dramatic turnaround. Quarter after quarter there will be more announcements of store closings. Macys just announced the closing of 5 stores and firing of 2,500 retail workers. JC Penney just announced the closing of 33 stores and firing of 2,000 retail workers. Announcements are imminent from Sears, Radio Shack and a slew of other retailers who are beginning to see the writing on the wall. The vacancy rate will be rising in strip malls, power malls and regional malls, with the largest growing sector being ghost malls. Before long it will appear that SPACE AVAILABLE is the fastest growing retailer in America.

See our previous posts on the four anchor stores:

UPDATE:

Mere hours after this post was published comes a headline on Drudge Report — a CNBC story on “A tsunami of store closings about to hit retail.” Belus Capital Advisors analyst Brian Sozzi said that after a profitable but below-expectations holiday season, the retail industry will face its second “tsunami of store closures across the U.S.,” only a few years after what he called the “fire sale holiday season of 2008.”

In addition to the store closings listed in this post (see above), Sozzi said a dozen other retailers also “have too many stores.” Among them are American EagleAéropostale, which is on track to close 175 stores over the next few years; and Wal-Mart, which has about 100 stores in the U.S. producing same-store sales declines deeper than 3%.

In sorrow,

~Eowyn

Dr. Eowyn is the Editor of Fellowship of the Minds.