Charting The Demise Of The US Consumer

Tyler Durden's picture

Sentiment surveys are sending the all-clear; the US Consumer (that 72% of all economic activity in the US) is as happy as they were five years ago (pre-crash) and American Idol is due to start again soon. However, recency-biased surveys apart, the reality in the data is far more dismal. The Philly Fed's ADS business conditions index is back at its worst since the crisis and decidedly recessionary (critical since it tracks many of the same indicators as the recession-confirming NBER).


Even more concerning, as Bloomberg Briefs notes, the stagnancy of real disposable income and contraction of revolving credit has led to a disaster-prone drop in industrial production of consumer goods (-0.9% in October) and a significant slide in the all-important retail sales data.


Once adjusted for inflation, retail sales fell to a lowly 1.7% YoY gain and while Sandy's effect is tough to discern, it seems anecdotally to be a net positive due to home supply stores sales - offering little real hope of a surge.


Of course with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Terrific Tuesday (we made that up) around the corner, we are sure the media will trot out as many CEOs and store-owners to explain how great things are - we will wait for the data.


Charts: Bloomberg Briefs

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cossack55's picture

You forgot Purple Thursday.

slaughterer's picture

"Of course with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Terrific Tuesday (we made that up) around the corner, we are sure the media will trot out as many CEOs and store-owners to explain how great things are..."  Exactly.  And the whole world will temporarily forget the war in the Middle East, the fiscal cliff and the Greece default risk.    All hail the US consumer and their $5 waffle-maker WMT riots.  

kaiserhoff's picture

Bloomberg bloomers.  The world is so full of things I have no use for.

The Limerick King's picture



Black Friday is gonna be great

Consumers will go for the bait

They'll shake their fat ass

And show-up en masse

And Walmart will win the....ummm wait!

Eireann go Brach's picture

What is Black Friday, as curious Europeans want to know? Is this when all those 300 pound black people stampede like elephants through stores fighting over $25 trinkets?

docj's picture

That about sums it up, actually. Though the stampede is actually very ethnically diverse.

A "bargain" feeding frenzy knows no race.

El Tuco's picture

Before the Black Friday thing caught on in Canada some friends had asked me if it was the day we let black people shop. I can understand why they thought that because all you see on the news is black people stampeding everywhere and robbing each other in the mall parking lots.

It reminds me of old Tarzan movie where the natives go crazy.....

SubjectivObject's picture

You only see the stampeed of blacks reported because the stampeed of the white banksters in and out of manipulated markets is censored in the popular media.  You don't see the stampeed of the suburban hillbillies reported as much because the banksters do not prefer to be embarassed by their distant relatives.

stocktivity's picture

"we are sure the media will trot out as many CEOs and store-owners to explain how great things are - we will wait for the data."

Don't forget CNBC will have reporters at the big malls on Black Friday telling us how the consumer is spending more than ever. Maria and Pisani will be gushing and waving pom poms.

DosZap's picture

Also, "Obama Third Term" sale.......................

CPL's picture

The walmart employee strike is still on from chatterboxing with some clerks and managers (yeah the managers are intending to walk as well)

Race Car Driver's picture

I love the smell of doom in the morning.

Cursive's picture


In Canada, maybe?  This has to be regional.  Can't see it happening in Dixie, but would be nice.  Imagine how nice Thanksgiving/Christmas would be without people fighting over cheap Chinese crap.

Whoa Dammit's picture

No one that works at WalMart is from Dixie, like their products, their workers are all imported too.

flattrader's picture

I have been waiting for this for years.

I may go by a Walmart and cheer the strikers on...and then drive to the new Savers and Red Rack to shop.

SheepDog-One's picture

U.S. consumer-monkey wont spend on credit cards? Huh, well let's teach em a lesson and tax the shit out of them!

Damn peasants....get back on those oars and ROW, dammit!

LongSoupLine's picture

whew...good thing 70% of GDP has now shifted to Bernanke and his army of algo bots.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Beating expectations, all... the... way... down...

Kina's picture

Quick, break some windows.

TahoeBilly2012's picture

Is there a thrift store index somewhere?

Offthebeach's picture

I an addictive reader. 99% non-fiction. I do library sales, thrift stores like the Salvation Army. I'd say three years ago there was hardly anyone in them. Now you can't find a parking space sometimes. The class of people have gone from non English speakers, car livers, sad old people to now nice people.

Orly's picture

I am seeing the exact same thing at my local thrift store.  The dollar store, too, is doing a very brisk business, especially in food items.

Used to love it when I was the only one in there but it seems everyone has rediscovered that thrift stores have some real gems if you know where to look.


blunderdog's picture

I've always looked for bargain food items in the discounters and dollar-stores.  Sometimes real deals are available.

Where I am right now, I'm seeing TONS of bulk-food products at really low prices, which I'd be snapping right up if I weren't pretty sure these are mostly products which were scrapped as flood-damaged from Sandy.

If we see a cholera outbreak in the NYC area over the holidays, it should be easy enough to guess why.

flattrader's picture

My largely upscale suburban community is estatic about the new Savers and Red Rack stores which have opened in the past few months.

A super majority is against a recently passed Walmart TIF (now in court) and voted for an anti-TIF mayor (72%) in the spring election.  There are plans to take out the as many pro-TIF council members as possible at the next election.

They'd rather have nice thrift stores than a taxpayer financed Walmart.

I gotta wonder if this kind of sentiment is spreading or if we are unusual.


Lord Drek's picture

A strange phenomenon can be found in my town: second-hand or consignment boutiques and clothing shops that cater to soccer moms. This way, suburbanites can buy high-quality used clothing and still afford to fill up the Yukon. Way classier than Salvation Army.

Orly's picture

There's three of those right on my road.  And we're not talking about a 300 sq. ft. little shop.  These things are huge.

DosZap's picture

Lord Drek

Had those in my area for years, had a lady in church always dressed to kill, and she makes damn good $$$$, so thought nothing of it,except she is Super frugal,( but gives a lot) wife asked where in the world did you get that?, million buck look.

She said oh, there is a store in bah,blah,(like you said) and she and hubby both were buying clothes most materialistic folks only dream of, for a dime on the dollar.

jimijon's picture

Wednesday's morning paper never comes.

BlueCollaredOne's picture

I know a lot of you aren't TV watchers, but I like my sunday routine of the US's version of circus maximus known as the NFL.  The amount of commercials for "black friday" are absurd.  This is also the first time that I have seen big box stores extending deals for the entire week, some being open on thanksgiving, most offering deals online, etc.

Not to mention all of the "0,0,0" car sales where you put no money down that are being shown.  

It's obvious that companies are getting desperate. 

toady's picture

Then the 'moral outrage' on the local news.

'How dare they co-opt Thanksgiving!'

They don't even realize they're co-opted 7x24!

Bodhi's picture

Seriously how many third tier crap LCD televisions does one need?

Whoa Dammit's picture

I bet CyberMonday is going to be pretty bad as Windows 8 is an epic fail, and everyone already has more than enough flat screen TVs & iThings.

ElvisDog's picture

Microsoft has such a tin-ear when it comes to technology these days. I understand wanting to have one operating system span PC's and mobile devices, but forcing that stupid icon-based touch screen as the default look-and-feel for PC's? Ridiculous. Everyone I've spoken to thinks it's the stupidest thing. And don't even get me started on how ridiculous X-box Kinect is. Yeah, let's shake our fists up and down for hours. That'll be fun.

lynnybee's picture

i went to the big mall south of town last Saturday.   it was the noon hour.   believe it, there was no one @ MACY'S; only a few shoppers wandering around.    now, years ago, this MACY'S would have been wall-to-wall people gone nuts on a Saturday pre-Thanksgiving.   being a long-time shopper who's seen it all & very into price & sales, i can see it for myself that the crowds are smaller than years gone by.    (oh, & the quality of merchandise at MACY'S looks like crap!, my opinion only.)

otto skorzeny's picture

can't this be attributed to all of the good weather across the country-people are spending time outside and not at the mall. wait-but when the weather sucks then people don't want to go out to the mall either-I'm confused.

ElvisDog's picture

I don't know. The mall by my house is packed with the usual collection of wildebeasts circling the parking lot looking for that space real close because heaven forbid they have to walk a little ways from their car to the store.

edifice's picture

Yours can walk? The ones by me have to ride in those scooter things, with each ass cheek hanging halfway off the seat. Blob-in-a-chair.

docj's picture

Well, nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of The US Consumer. Except said Consumer themselves, of course.

Which is precisely why I take results from "surveys" of "US Consumers" with only so many grains of salt - given that these self-same engines of our "service-based" economy will likely to be the last to know they are, in reality, bankrupt.

Incubus's picture

consumers are told what they want and what to buy.

lol@capitalism for overestimating human intelligence and underestimating their corruptibility.


And we're all going to die a big fiery death.  What can one do?  Nero had it right.

docj's picture

What is this "capitalism" of which you speak?

yogibear's picture

An opening of  a Savation Army thrft near you soon.  The fairly new thrift store by me is doing a brisk business.

Then there are all those great deals on Craig's List of used items.

The college loan debt slaves have to cut corners some way to pay the banksters.


riphowardkatz's picture

Delinquencies Rise as Consumers Load Up on Debt



falak pema's picture

talking of demise, here are some ominous chimes from the world bank :

World Bank Warns Of Catastrophic Effects From 4 Degree Warming - Business Insider


Its NO MORE 2° rise, its NOW 4° rise....take your pick, financial meltdown or ecological variety. 

ElvisDog's picture

Well, catastrophe really depends on where you live. I imagine Russia would welcome a 4 degree rise in temperature. Their wheat production would soar. I live in WA, and 4 degrees sounds good to me too.

ElvisDog's picture

Here is a clip from that article:

The planet's temperature curve rose sharply for almost 30 years, as global temperatures increased by an average of 0.7 degrees Celsius (1.25 degrees Fahrenheit) from the 1970s to the late 1990s.

Really? So the climate-change cassandras are getting their panties in a bunch about a 0.7 degree temperature change over 30 years?? I don't have a PhD in climatology, but I'm going to suggest that 0.7 degrees is statistically irrelevant background noise. There is no way that life on Earth is so delicate that our ecosystem will collapse due to a 0.7 degree change in temperature. God, people are idiots for believing this crap.

DosZap's picture

Winston of Oceania


Been preaching that for here for last 2yrs, facts do not mean things to Democrats.

It's called Cyclical.............we are so(some of us) so damn vain, long term swings to us is 100-200yrs.

BurningFuld's picture

Please remember when reptiles grew to giant sizes (Dinosaurs) the world was a much warmer place! And I want that back! You are free to have your own opinion.

falak pema's picture

T-rex mania? 

Sounds very Jurassic park !