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Shoppers cool down their credit cards

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  • Shoppers cool down their credit cards

    June 2, 2011

    If gas prices don’t slide, expect more online shopping

    What you make of May same-store sales depends on what you want to see.

    Retailers, pointing to a 4.9% gain from year-ago sales, see it as evidence that their business continues to improve. Wall Street sees it as a disappointment, coming in well below the 5.4% they expected. Then there’s the usual snipping among analysts over the weather’s impact and which merchants had the hottest product lines. Read full coverage on May same-store sales.

    But summing up what was at best a lukewarm month for retailers really isn’t that hard. First, throw out any notion of an industry average. It’s pretty clear that purveyors of luxury items, like Saks Inc. SKS -0.09% , and bulk-goods wholesalers continue to do well. Those in between do not.

    What’s that mean for retailers aiming their wares at the middle class? The numbers show that they are drifting out of vogue — not because there aren’t plenty of what “aspirational” buyers out there, but because their aspirations are being sorely tested in the face of rising food and fuel costs.

    Right now, a badly shaken middle class is hunkered down with mortgage payments on houses that are slipping in value and credit-card debts that weren’t as worrisome in better days. Since recovering from the Great Recession has been so painfully slow, these folks have had plenty of time to change their spending habits. The data show that’s exactly what they’re doing.

    Trends embedded in that data include fewer trips to the mall and the emergence of a far more cost-conscious buyer. While these may be solid virtues, the move from impulse buying toward frugality is squeezing discretionary purchases in an ever tighter vise.

    For investors, this puts a premium on wholesalers like Costco Wholesale Corp. COST -0.09% and BJ Wholesale Club Inc. BJ -0.10% , which both had fantastic May sales. At the same time, it raises concerns about big department-store chains such as Kohl’s Corp. KSS +0.10% , Target Corp. TGT -0.69% and J.C. Penney Co. JCP -0.65% , as well as Dillard’s Inc. DDS -0.63% — traditional purveyors to the middle class. They all missed analysts’ expectations.

    One month’s worth of retail data doesn’t mark the end of the road for department stores. But the latest indicators on housing, manufacturing and the job market, combined with this latest batch of same-store sales reports, will put more downward pressure on Wall Street’s already lowered full-year expectations for the group.

    Are there any winners in this scenario? Sure. If gasoline prices don’t come down soon, expect more shopping trips via the Internet. Online retailers have far less to fear from high gas prices than the massive department stores anchoring the nation’s malls.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sho...MW_latest_news
    Filed/discharged/closed Chapter 7 in 2010!

  • #2
    Thank goodness there's debit cards to do internet shopping with, along with gasoline, etc. We probably would have to get a credit card if it weren't for the Visa & MasterCard debit cards.
    Filed Chapter 7 July 2010
    Attended 341 September 2010
    Discharged November 2010 Closed November 2010

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