Retail Sales Confirm "You Can't Spend What You Don't Have"

Tyler Durden's picture

Despite all the rancor about seasonally-adjusted ad hoc beats of holiday week retail sales (amid burgeoning discounts), the trend (post the Hurricane Sandy-driven surge) in GAFO (General Merchandise, Apparel and Accessories, Furniture and Other Sales) retail sales is most explicitly lower. As Bloomberg Brief notes, consumer incomes are in a fragile state and between the ATRA deal and a 'stable' at best unemployment picture, it seems that the YoY change in retail sales is indicating per capita disposable income is set to decline further. As Rich Yamarone concludes: it appears "You can't spend what you don't have." It seems 'tax-the-rich' is also misfiring as those making over $90k per year report recent spending at its lowest for this time of year since 2008.


GAFO Retail Sales appear to be indicating a turn to come in disposable personal income...


and sure enough, via Gallup, Upper-income Americans' (defined as those making at least $90,000 per year) self-reported daily spending was lower this November -- an average of $113 -- than in any November dating back to 2008. Upper-income spending has been trending downward since September, although the decline has not been large enough to drag down the overall spending figures.


Although November marks the beginning of the holiday season -- generally a time for spending and splurging -- Americans did not spend any more than usual this November, and upper-income Americans appear to be spending less than usual.


Source: Bloomberg Briefs and Gallup

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Cdad's picture

What?  But I have such big material plans!

IvyMike's picture

Central planning of forcible restraint is true capitalism.

Ayn Rand told me so:

"... a weird absurdity called 'competing governments' ... Remember that forcible restraint of men is the only service a government has to offer. Ask yourself what a competition in forcible restraint would have to mean."

~Ayn Rand

akak's picture

IvyMike, in every one of your posts I feel like I am reading the deranged scribblings of the love child of LetThemEatRand and AnAnonymous.

IvyMike's picture

I'm not sure of Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum's parentage, but I think you're getting close.

akak's picture

You mean I'm getting "very crusty, very much something", right?

Alas, alas, three times alas. 

Just have to bear with it.

MrTouchdown's picture

You got "Central planning of forcible restraint is true capitalism" out of that Rand quote? Talk about confirmation bias...

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Boris is suggest to change professional to banking, can gamble with others' money. Maybe is politician other possibility, no?

Salon's picture

Million dollar bonus and gunslinger, you are a man of many talents.

I also love that goody hispanic lady you do but I forgot her name

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Boris is never do hispanic lady. Boris is faithful marriage.

IvyMike's picture

I want to have a car that attract a woman with shave down below. ~Borat

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Boris is have tractor, not so attract to women, but can tow heavy object.

IvyMike's picture

Then drive dual-use Green, Bodacious Babes and Big Round Balers!

She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy

akak's picture

Tractor very handy during rasputina messy time.

If can tow heavy object, can probably tow Russian woman ("princess to plowhorse") to beetfield for make plowing.

HelluvaEngineer's picture

I can tell you anecdotally that pretty much everyone in my direct family makes six figures.  We had a dramatically scaled back Christmas.  I have informed my family that I intend to not buy anything in 2013 unless I truly need it.  My retail store bills have gone from $120/trip to $40 or so.  Everyone on ZH should do the same, IMO.

drink or die's picture

And you are doing what with your leftover cash then?  Holding it?  I'd rather buy physical assets (that don't depreciate) and hold that then be sitting on a huge mountain of cash.  I'm in a similar income bracket and that has been my strategy for the past 4 years.

bnbdnb's picture

I've been paying down debt.

HD's picture

WTF? You PAY your debt?!

What part of the "new normal" don't you understand? You don't bother to honor your financial obligations unless you're using someone else's money - printed or otherwise.

If you have questions, anyone at CNBC can help: 201-585-2622


Shizzmoney's picture

Everyone I know has used their money to either A) travel/move or B) pay down debt (like me, I'm out by April).

There's value in traveling, because you are at least doing fun things in places you haven't seen before.  Moving costs like rent, gas, and services have risen, and people move around much more now not only thanks to globalization, but also due to lack of opportunity for jobs, so people must save up for that big move (like many of my friends who had to after the US Govt killed online poker).  This is a slight part of the story.

The paying down debt story is much more prevelant. The only way to kick off a loan shark off once he's bitten your fin, is to cut off the fin.  And the best way to not get bitten by a loan to avoid him. 

I think our feelings' toward Congress reveal we are headed to a dark place as they continue to protect our Corporate Overloads at NO cost, so inheritently......I think people know the only way out of that, and to hedge against an economic collapse (besides PMs) is to AGGRESSIVELY pay down debt and not to re-debt:

Consumers paying down debt despite obstacles: ABA


Delinquencies on bank card payments fell to an 18-year low during the quarter, and a composite ratio covering late payments in eight loan categories also fell, the group said.


But delinquencies rose in five of those eight categories, the ABA said.


And consumers could see lower income because Congress did not extend a temporary reduction in the Social Security payroll tax, which could hurt consumers' ability to repay loans in the future, James Chessen, ABA's chief economist, said in a statement.


"The conservative approach consumers have taken to credit over the last several years has allowed them to better manage their debt and better position themselves for the future," Chessen said.


"Changes in payroll withholding will decrease disposable income, reducing retail sales and making it more difficult for some people to meet their financial obligations," he said.


He said low consumer confidence in the economy also could indicate more delinquencies are on the way. A recent measure of U.S. consumer attitudes showed confidence at a four-month low.

This is NOT good for a consumer based economy.


A worker NOT in debt is more dangerous to an employer than a worker in a union (and I'm for unions, generally).

The HARD WORKING American consumer, who actually likes money in their pocket, is SLOWLY starting to realize this.

donkshover's picture

Why no online poker? If you dont use your  IP address  no one will know  and if they want to prosecute you   there are so many lawyers pro bono chomping at the bit for such a case.

 Poker is my retirement plan you muthus!

lakecity55's picture

1 buying nothing but essentials.

2 paying off last debt.

3 buying PMs on the dip(s).

4 will buy barter items and extra tools after debt is paid.

Zap Powerz's picture

Helluva...Im already there brother.  I need to save my money so I can pay more of my fair share.

Roy T's picture

I just got my first check with the new Social Security rates included today.  I will be spending 2% less myself in 2013.


sharky2003's picture

The hubs and I make decent money between us, though still 25% bracket. Our spending in the last year has absolutely plummeted. We used to eat out all the time but now if we eat out, it's only because we have a coupon. The last clothing purchase was undershirts for work attire. Before that it was a couple shirts 75% off on the clearance rack. My last shoe purchase was a year and a half ago. We go to Redbox instead of the newest movies at the theater. Our cars are 7 and 10 years old. We are saving the extra money, using some of it to diversify into PM's, because we know things aren't as good as they look. We hope the money we have saved will be able to get us through what's coming ahead. 

TuesdayBen's picture

I eat out, but I don't drink out

chubbar's picture

OT, but this report from Naomi Wolf is just fucking crazy (and infuriating) if true. Who the fuck is our gov't working for, or do I really need to ask?

"Only one month into the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations last year, plans were formulated to identify key figures in the movement and execute them with a coordinated assault using sniper rifles, new documents reveal.

The revelation — discussed in a heavily redacted FBI memo unearthed late last month through a Freedom of Information Act request — reveals that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was aware of plans for a violent assault on the peaceful protest movement but stayed silent on rumors of an assassination attempt only until now.

Information on the alleged plot to kill off protesters appears on page 61 of the trove of documents obtained recently by a FOIA request filed by the Partnership For Civil Justice Fund. On the page in question, marked “SECRET,” the FBI acknowledges:

An identified [redacted] of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas, if deemed necessary. An identified [redacted] had received intelligence that indicated the protesters in New York and Seattle planned similar protests in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. [Redacted] planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles.

In the rest of the material obtained by the PFCJF, the FBI declines to mention any follow-up attempts to investigate the rumored assassination plot. Page 61, where the plot is discussed, was redacted heavily before it was handed over to the PFCJF.

“This correlation between the FBI, the Department of Homeland security and corporations in the New York stock exchange really showed who they are serving. It’s not the government in this case, it’s these corporations and a financial sector, and it’s certainly not the people,” independent journalist and activist Anna Lekas Miller told RT.

“The FBI is really just targeting ordinary people going about their daily lives as potential terrorists, and now people, who are participating in peaceful protests, are also characterized as domestic terrorists. So, I think the FBI is really picking and choosing who it categorizes as the type of civilians it wants to protect,” added Miller.

As RT reported when the documents were first published just before Christmas, other material released through the FOIA request showed the FBI and other law enforcement agencies labeling Occupy activists as criminal and domestic terrorists. This was the case from the beginning of their anti-capitalism and anti-corporate greed protests that started in September 2011.


“These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity,” PFCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard says. “These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

But while police agencies were working to expose protesters for alleged crimes against the country, the demonstrators themselves were being faced with very real death threats.

“The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Years, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world,” Naomi Wolf writes for The Guardian. Not all that unsurprising, though, is how the very agencies that acted to suppress the protest movement made little announcement of plans to execute the very people involved in the group.

“[T]hreats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire — by whom? Where? — now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader,” Wolf writes.

Go Tribe's picture

Some think that when the SHTF, the police and military men and women will join forces with the anti-government crowd. However, the police and military are carefully trained, and, despite what they say, will do what they're told.

akak's picture


I have yet to hear of one single example of a thug, er, law enforcement officer having refused to take part in the grossly illegal and unconstitutional attacks on, and suppression of, the OccupyWallStreet protests --- or of any statist thug, er, statist minion, er, traitor, er, police officer backing down from the now routine suppression of ALL public protest in the USA, which for all practical purposes is now an automatic ticket to jail.

GubbermintWorker's picture

Until they realize that they're pensions are worth diddly shit and they won't get shit.

Shizzmoney's picture


Rats are fat and happy rodents who flock with the crowd until they run out of food......then they become rabid.

The Gooch's picture

$96.8,000,000,000.00 in the "Land Of Lincoln" alone. O won't be getting his Il. senator pension... Nor will the Rahmarmy.

"To Serve and Protect".

Chump's picture

I think a vast, vast majority of police officers would kill any and all comers when the shit truly hit the fan.  Rural areas would likely be OK, but the cities would quickly devolve into "shoot anything not in uniform."  There are not enough officers in all the alphabet soup agencies combined to quell even a tiny area of the country, however, so in the end the police lose that fight, badly.

And then enters the military.  I have no doubt that a percentage of military forces would obey orders to fire on American citizens.  It's my opinion that it would be a minority.  I couldn't begin to quantify my opinion and it may just be a flight of fancy.  For all I know the implosion could leave armed forces stranded in hostile countries.  Still, I think a distinction should be made between police and military forces.

Side note: one of the few positive aspects of a SHTF scenario is seeing a bunch of fat asshole thugs with badges losing all semblance of authority.

Tristan Ludlow's picture

I think you need to reassess.  Unless you are in the military or law enforcement, everything you think is pure conjecture.  I hold out hope that the majority of both will side with the people.  My opinion is not based on a scientic survey, but it is based upon personal knowledge and anecdotal evidence. 

akak's picture

Unfortunately, I think that it is YOU who needs to reassess, as I think you are grossly wrong.

Where are all the police and military personnel who have refused their already egregiously unconstitutional, rights-violating orders in the last 10 or 20 years?  Can you point to ANY such people?  Where are the cops who refused to crack OWS heads, in violation of every precept of rights and justice, or the members of the military who refused to take part in the grossly unjustified, purely aggressive invasion of Iraq in 2003?  There are none.

Face it: the overwhelming majority, if not ALL, of those currently in law enforcement or the military are unprincipled, spineless sheep who WILL follow orders, no matter how unjust.

lincolnsteffens's picture

Fed will have to print lots more green stuff to keep paying military and enforcement agencies when tax revs. fall off the cliff. The gov. could try to seize assets of "terrorists and malcontents"  but

if it is not cash who will they sell the stuff to and at what price?

Freddie's picture

Yup. This is how it will probably work.  The old Ben Bernank bucks will be worthless and the cops, other thugs and military will be paid in the new money.  Unless you have PM's - you will have no money. Oir muslim will bring in mercs and the euro banksters will have a plan.

Still - 19 million gun were sold (or 19 million NIC checks) in 2012.   Most of those people did not buy a gun because they really were excited about buying a gun.  They know things are going the wr-O-ng way O.  Since 2008 or 4 years - how many new guns were sold?  50 to 60 million?  50 million new guns in a country that has more guns than probably any country on earth.



DaveA's picture

If the FBI let fly with real bullets, they'd only need two or three kills before the rest go back to Occupying their mom's basement. Killing a mere four protesters at Kent State stopped the anti-Vietnam-war movement dead in its tracks.

The key to surviving societal collapse is not calling attention to yourself!! Rioting in the street, destroying property, squatting in public parks, or being in the general vicinity of people doing these things is a great way to get yourself killed. Stay home, tend your garden, shoot some squirrels, and the authorities will probably leave you alone.

lincolnsteffens's picture

"...stopped the anti-Viet Nam War movement dead..."

beg to differ. It outraged people on the sidelines  increasing

animosity toward the gov. and its war policy. It didn't stop me and

my friends.

roadhazard's picture

People who rewrite history crack me up. You must be a rabid right winger with a hood.

You would fined me Very involved in OWS if they started getting killed. Right now I'm just an armchair cheerleader for OWS. Don't piss me off too much.

Racer's picture

And if you save anything you get less than nothing for it (stolen by inflation and no interest if you are stupid enough to give it to a bankster) so you have even less than you saved

MiguelitoRaton's picture

Need more cheap credit bitchez!

tooriskytoinvest's picture

We Are Heading Toward A Black Swan Event, Global Monetary Reset & Chaos, And Suddenly, Lots Of Influential People Are Talking About The Trillion Dollar Coin Idea To Save The Economy. The Next Collapse Is Bigger Than Fed & IMF Combined!!

lakecity55's picture

I think both of those stories have the March time frame in them.  Seeing that more and more......

You know, the Statists always get hubristic and overreach.

I'd keep my radar on, guys.

nmewn's picture

They started early, my last check of 2012 was 82 bucks lighter, they whacked me for the ObamaCare increase in health insurance (AGAIN!), more fed taxes, more medicare taxes and back to the old socialist insecurity tax rate.

Forward into the abyss...but at least I'll have company ;-)

northerngirl's picture

My daughter received her first pay check today.  She called me on her break to vent her dislike at the amount taxes that were taken out of her check.  I told her the fun had only begun.