Ritholtz on Retail Sales

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I am loath to seem overly dependent on one source, but the market’s drop today was so overdue that it didn’t strike me as news, and the rest of the news didn’t seem that juicy either (how long can Wolfowitz keep going? In his next incarnation he can be an EverReady ad).

So Ritholtz’s fulminating about the latest economic news, the April retail sales report, was welcome. Maybe I am jaded, but I am mystified that anyone is surprised that consumers are running out of steam:

How bad were April Retail Sales today?

• Wal-Mart posted its deepest monthly decline in at least 28 years.

• The UBS-International Council of Shopping Centers sales tally posted a decline of 2.3 percent, the biggest drop since the index started tracking the data.

• 80% of retailers that have reported missed comp estimates, according to Peter Bookvar of Miller Tabak

• When the Retailers made their forecasts for April sales, they already knew that Easter was in March. Despite making adjustments for that calendar variation, they STILL MISSED ESTIMATES BY A WIDE MARK.

Blame it on the Weather: A quick reminder of the Retailers favorite bullshit excuses: The Weather. In April, there was too much rain. (You mean it rains in the Spring — Who Knew ???)

To remind y’all about some past exusage, it was “Too warm in January, too cold in February, too much static cling in March.” The fear for May is the emergence of the 17 year Cicada, which will interfere dramatically with ongoing retail promotions. Also of major concern: German U-Boats off of the coast of New Jersey will be interfering with the Memorial Day sales. (We last looked at these less-than-believable excuses in Through The Retail Looking Glass)

I demand that if you are going to bullshit me with absurd and moronic excuses, at least have the god-damned courtesy to make them entertaining.

Is there anyone who covers Retail that can answer a question honestly? Yes:

“Aside from scheduling changes [early Easter], several economic factors likely hampered Wal-Mart and other retailers. Consumers did most of their tax-refund spending in March. Gasoline prices have risen 9% in the past month to $3.03 a gallon, further pinching cash-strapped consumers. “Housing market sluggishness has translated into much lower levels of mortgage equity withdrawal in 2006 and 2007 from what we saw in 2005,” Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins said. Such withdrawals had been “a significant source of consumer spending.”

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