20 Stunning Facts On The US Retail Apocalypse

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

If the U.S. economy is getting better, then why are major retail chains closing thousands of stores?  If we truly are in an "economic recovery", then why do sales figures continue to go down for large retailers all over the country?  Without a doubt, the rise of Internet retailing giants such as Amazon.com have had a huge impact.  Today, there are millions of Americans that actually prefer to shop online.  Personally, when I published my novel I made it solely available on Amazon.  But Internet shopping alone does not account for the great retail apocalypse that we are witnessing.  In fact, some retail experts estimate that the Internet has accounted for only about 20 percent of the decline that we are seeing.  Most of the rest of it can be accounted for by the slow, steady death of the middle class U.S. consumer.  Median household income has declined for five years in a row, but all of our bills just keep going up.  That means that the amount of disposable income that average Americans have continues to shrink, and that is really bad news for retailers.

And sadly, this is just the beginning.  Retail experts are projecting that the pace of store closings will actually accelerate over the course of the next decade.

So as you read this list below, please take note that things will soon get even worse.

The following are 20 facts about the great U.S. retail apocalypse that will blow your mind...

#1 As you read this article, approximately a billion square feet of retail space is sitting vacant in the United States.

#2 Last week, Radio Shack announced that it was going to close more than a thousand stores.

#3 Last week, Staples announced that it was going to close 225 stores.

#4 Same-store sales at Office Depot have declined for 13 quarters in a row.

#5 J.C. Penney has been dying for years, and it recently announced plans to close 33 more stores.

#6 J.C. Penney lost 586 million dollars during the second quarter of 2013 alone.

#7 Sears has closed about 300 stores since 2010, and CNN is reporting that Sears is "expected to shutter another 500 Sears and Kmart locations soon".

#8 Overall, sales numbers have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row.

#9 Target has announced that it is going to eliminate 475 jobs and not fill 700 positions that are currently empty.

#10 It is being projected that Aéropostale will close about 175 stores over the next couple of years.

#11 Macy's has announced that it is going to be closing five stores and eliminating 2,500 jobs.

#12 The Children’s Place has announced that it will be closing down 125 of its "weakest" stores by 2016.

#13 Best Buy recently shut down about 50 stores up in Canada.

#14 Video rental giant Blockbuster has completely shut down all of their stores.

#15 It is being projected that sales at U.S. supermarkets will decline by 1.7 percent this year even as the overall population continues to grow.

#16 McDonald's has reported that sales at established U.S. locations were down 3.3 percent in January.

#17 A home appliance chain known as "American TV" in the Midwest is going to be shutting down all 11 stores.

#18 Even Wal-Mart is struggling right now.  Just check out what one very prominent Wal-Mart executive recently admitted...

David Cheesewright, CEO of Walmart International was speaking at the same presentation, and he pointed out that Walmart would try to protect its market share in the US – where the company had just issued an earnings warning. But most of the growth would have to come from its units outside the US. I mean, via these share buybacks?


Alas, outside the US too, economies were limping along at best, and consumers were struggling and the operating environment was tough. "We're seeing economies under stress pretty much everywhere we operate," Cheesewright admitted.

#19 In a recent CNBC article entitled "Time to close Wal-Mart stores? Analysts think so", it was recommended that Wal-Mart should close approximately 100 "underperforming" supercenters in rural locations across America.

#20 Retail consultant Howard Davidowitz is projecting that up to half of all shopping malls in America may shut down within the next 15 to 20 years...

Within 15 to 20 years, retail consultant Howard Davidowitz expects as many as half of America's shopping malls to fail. He predicts that only upscale shopping centers with anchors like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus will survive.

So is there any hope that things will turn around?

Well, if the U.S. economy started producing large numbers of good paying middle class jobs there would definitely be cause for optimism.

Unfortunately, that is just not happening.

On Friday, we were told that the U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs during the month of February.

That sounds pretty good until you realize that it takes almost that many jobs each month just to keep up with population growth.

And according to CNS News, the number of unemployed Americans actually grew faster than the number of employed Americans in February...

The number of unemployed individuals 16 years and over increased by 223,000 in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).


In February, there were 10,459,000 unemployed individuals age 16 and over, which was up 223,000 from January, when there were 10,236,000 unemployed individuals.

Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate continues to sit at a 35 year low, and a staggering 70 percent of all Americans not in the labor force are below the age of 55.

That is outrageous.

And things look particularly depressing when you look at the labor force participation rate for men by themselves.

In 1950, the labor force participation rate for men was sitting at about 87 percent.  Today, it has dropped beneath 70 percent to a brand new all-time record low.

The truth is that there simply are not enough jobs for everyone anymore.

The chart posted below shows how the percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job has changed since the turn of the millennium.  As you can see, the employment-population ratio declined precipitously during the last recession, and it has stayed below 59 percent since late 2009...

Employment Population Ratio 2014

If we were going to have a "recovery", we should have had one by now.

Since there are not enough jobs, what is happening is that more highly educated workers are taking the jobs that were once occupied by less educated workers and bumping them out of the labor force entirely.  The following is an excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article...

Recent college graduates are ending up in more low-wage and part-time positions as it's become harder to find education-level appropriate jobs, according to a January study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.


The share of Americans ages 22 to 27 with at least a bachelor's degree in jobs that don't require that level of education was 44 percent in 2012, up from 34 percent in 2001, the study found.

Due to the fact that there are not enough middle class jobs to go around, the middle class has been steadily shrinking.

In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be "middle class".  Today, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be "middle class".

That is a pretty significant shift in just six years, don't you think?

For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled "28 Signs That The Middle Class Is Heading Toward Extinction".

Despite what the politicians and the mainstream media are telling you, the truth is that something is fundamentally wrong with our economy.

On a gut level, most people realize this.

According to one recent survey, only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.  And according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, only 28 percent of all Americans believe that this country is moving in the right direction.

The frightening thing is that this is about as good as things are going to get.  The next great wave of the economic collapse is approaching, and when it strikes the plight of the middle class is going to get a whole lot worse.

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Big Corked Boots's picture

People just don't have any money left. My ebay account proves this.

cougar_w's picture

Don't worry fracking will save us all.

The Alarmist's picture

Better than fracking, there are Dollar Stores (in their many permutations) opening up all over the place.  Retailing isn't dying, it's mererly being downsized to match the economy.

cougar_w's picture

Then to scale things correctly we can expect a -89% GDP print pretty soon.


Nope. No sarc tag.

GetZeeGold's picture



I'll take kill Obamacare for a $1000 Alex.


Turns out people with 40 hr/week jobs have more money to spend.


Also.....let the global warming crap go as well.....cause that ain't helping either.

krispkritter's picture

Those things are popping up faster than zits on a teenager around here.  Haven't been in one but it makes you wonder just what kind of cheap-Chinese crap you can get for a devalued dollar these days.  With China imploding and the dollar continuing to be printed at the rate of $1T a year, I suppose you'll be able to by a 5 pack of toothpicks or paper plates soon.  Maybe even a whole book of matches...

SF beatnik's picture

Time for the TWO dollar store, because the dollar store merchandise is becoming unacceptably junky - to say nothing of the smaller packages of some items sold.



The Alarmist's picture

You clearly need to have your expectations managed further in the right direction, you first-world grandee!

0b1knob's picture

Walmart killed their own brand when they decided to go after the EBT money.   Stores are full of degenerates now.  I mean even worse than before.  See the people of Walmart site.

Many women are afraid or ashamed to go to Walmart now.   

Freddie's picture

EBT is practically the majority of their business now.  It is like a third world hell hole.  I avoid WMT like the plague.

TruthInSunshine's picture

If you haven't noticed yet, take a look at "party stores," "convenience stores" and "liquor stores" in working class and even [former] "middle class" neighborhoods, where cigarettes are sold by 5 packs & even as single items, where the same is true of basic staples - milk, bread, etc. are being sold in mini packs since people can't afford to buy entire loaves of bread or gallons of milk at one time.

Even the dollar stores are essentially doing the "bodega" style thing, selling one liters of soda, odd ounce count containers if juice and dairy products, etc. all to match the ever shrinking disposable income of the continuously shrinking middle class.

I have a client who owns one of the largest regional distributorships for major brand beer, soda and refrigerated products, and he told me over drinks at a barbeque at his house three summers ago that no matter what the MSM headlines declared, his operations showed a clear trend of Mexican style bodega packaging of all products (i.e. smaller sizes and reduced quantities/product count compared to the past), and this would be an you unstoppable, permanent trend.

Shocker's picture

RadioShack, Staples, Sbarro Pizza, and this is just in the last week. Thousands of stores

Great recovery

Job Situation; http://www.dailyjobcuts.com


Skateboarder's picture

Hallmark of any third world nation is cigarette singles sold at local corner shacks. Welcome to the future bitchez.

Sock Monkey Posse's picture

That's been the norm in my 'hood for 30 years.

GetZeeGold's picture



Cigarette singles......another European fad about to hit America.


Followed closely by a VAT tax.....blame it on Bush.


So when are the new Obamaphone upgrades going to be sent out again?

General Decline's picture

I've recently noticed more stores selling single cans of beer as well.

MarsInScorpio's picture

WalMart has apparently decided on a"WalMart" lite approach to competing with Dollar Stores and such.


They are called"WalMart Neighborhood Market" and instead of the familiar blue logo color, they are using a bright lime green and yellow color scheme.


The one I saw was in west Mobile, AL, on Airport Blvd along a renovated multi -mile strip of previously older retail stores and strip centers.


I've never heard of"WalMart Neighborhood Market" before. It is a very downsized operation from their Super Centers.


Obviously WalMart is well aware of the New Normal, and is already implementing a move to reattract higher income customers.


Don't be a dummy and write off the world's largest retailer; it takes years to design all the interlinked components for such a radical change in direction.


They quit buying the Obama Big Lie, the FED's Big Lie, and Bull's Big Lie years ago. Too bad the rest of the world is so far behind facing the truth WalMart has long admitted.



Serenity Now's picture

I haven't heard of the Walmart Neighborhood Market, but the Walmarts where I lived "downsized" a few years ago by widening the aisles, lowering the shelves and making them less deep, then turning 1/4 of the store into groceries.  I estimate that 1/3 of the store merchandise is gone.  Then Target did the same thing.  I saw the writing on the retail wall a long time ago.  

Costco will be the last store standing.

RabbitChow's picture

just like in the movie Idiocracy. are we there yet?

Freddie's picture

I hear part of the WMT klan will be backing Hillary.  I think the Walton sister.  F them.  I hope Aldi/Trader Joes kicks their arse.

Did the Walton's support the Clintons back in Ark?

Disenchanted's picture

Hillary was on WMT's Board of Directors for six years, when she was First Lady of Arkansas.



... According to the New York Times, Sen. Clinton "maintains close ties to Wal-Mart executives through the Democratic Party and the tightly knit Arkansas business community." The May 20, 2007 article also reported that her husband, former President Clinton, "speaks frequently to Wal-Mart's current chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr." and held a private dinner at the Clinton's New York home in July 2006 for him.

SocDoc's picture

The first WalMart Neighborhood Market I saw was in Indiana circa 2005. So they've been thinking about it a while.

TheRideNeverEnds's picture

Welcome to Obamas America.


Lucky you get to keep ANY of your salary, you didn't earn that, somebody else made that happen!! 

GetZeeGold's picture



The next 3 years of the Obama Presidency will be an all out ad campaign of how it seemed his first 5 years sucked....but not really....and here's why,

MTAR's picture

 Maybe Walmart sees the writing on the wall and know what future customers will look like? Walmart targeting the lowest fiscal demographic will give them a leading edge in pre/mid financial meltdown. I too avoid walmart!! 

Amish Hacker's picture

A TWO dollar store? Who could afford it?

capitallosses's picture

I thought Trader Joes dominated the $2 market years ago with "two buck Chuck".

RabbitChow's picture

i was there this past weekend. its been three buck chuck for years now. bottling costs much more tthese days.

kaiserhoff's picture

You can buy good stuff in ours, like 4 potato chips or 6 milk duds.

Actually it's fun.  The 99 cent store has reading glasses, denture cleansers, pregnancy and pot test kits.  You can learn a lot about Merica in a dollar store;)

Son of Loki's picture

I dont no Y folks knock the $ Store. I bought all my Christmas gifts for my Mother-in-Law there last year.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

You would actually be pretty surprised. Went in there to buy paper plates and cups one time, ended up spending about 20$ on random shit. They have OTC heartburn pills there for a dollar for 8 pills, I swear it works just as good as Zantac. I take one about once a week. Also, the dish washer detergent works as good or better than the shit you pay 5 or 6 dollars for a t publix. I used to be embarrassed about going in them, just because it used to be the dregs of society in them, but this one really isn't bad. I am lucky in that I have a decent paying job, but why spend 4 or 5 times as much when it's probably all the same shit anyway

Bunker Boy's picture

Yes the economy is on the verge of tanking. Yes good jobs are very difficult to get. The job I now have there were 400 applicants for. However, things won't get truly terrible until food stamps and unemployment benefits are cut off. The end will then come in a matter of days or a few weeks after that event.

This article is a bit misleading in that retailers are simply retooling to match the poor current economic environment. But we haven't seen anything yet.

nightshiftsucks's picture

"However, things won't get truly terrible until food stamps and unemployment benefits are cut off. The end will then come in a matter of days or a few weeks after that event" And thats why they will print to the bitter end. Dow 100000 ?

mjcOH1's picture

"Yes the economy is on the verge of tanking. Yes good jobs are very difficult to get. The job I now have there were 400 applicants for. However, things won't get truly terrible until food stamps and unemployment benefits are cut off. The end will then come in a matter of days or a few weeks after that event."


Optimist.   We're 3 missed meals away from mass rioting.

Abi Normal's picture

I believe it is '9 meals from anarchy'...the average pantry has that many meals in it...just sayin'

TruthInSunshine's picture

If SNAP/EBT Cards were shut off for 72 hours or more, there'd be true RIOTS & MASS, MOB VIOLENCE in the USSA.

In fact, if SNAP/EBT Cards were shut off for a month, the Army National Guard, with armored vehicles & attack helicopters, would be required to suppress the mob violence, looting & mass arson.

Does anyone doubt this?

If not, what does this tell you about the "state of the union?"

cynicalskeptic's picture

There's a reason for Homeland Security buying all that ammo and FEMA preparing so many 'evacuation' camp sites.

OF COURSE TPTB know what can happen - they were told this would happen if they didn't pass TARP and are scared to death

TheReplacement's picture

It is so strange isn't it?  You can see the problem.  You understand they are all victims.  Still, you cannot do what is necessary to free them because they are dependent on their chains and will fight you for them.  They are too many and you cannot win.  The only real solution is for the system to collapse.  Such an event would break their chains but that will probably lead to a very horrible reality for everyone. 

It's like your car died on the RR tracks and you can't get out.  The train is bearing down on you and there are 165M people strapped to the front.  Sigh.

Son of Loki's picture

I hear ya Bunker. There were 365 applicants for 4 positions in my company last month. The HR lady told me most had top grades from good schools. The company had to form a "committee" to select from the cream of the crop. If I had to apply now I'd be scared sheisless.

fattail's picture

Warm body hire here.  Lucky for me I had very specific skills when they were desperate.   All my young co-workers beat my gpa by half a point.  We had 14 4.0s apply to be summer intern.  I don't know how many others with a lower gpa didn't even get a look.  It's tough out there.  Who do you know?  Is more important.

CoastalCowboy's picture

Wow, nearly a 100:1 ratio now that's what I call green shoots. 

TheReplacement's picture

Don't forget the "Cash for GOLD" signs that are becoming more common all the time. 

CoastalCowboy's picture

I've always thought those "Cash for Gold" places would be a great spots for criminals to hang out and wait for victims.  They could rob them coming or going.  When you live in my city, you have to learn to think that way.

tarsubil's picture

I mentioned this to my brother on a trip and it was like the scales fell from his eyes.

He and his wife are childless and have earned mid to low 6 figures for years. He never has to shop at Walmart and when I mentioned Walmart is dying and is being succeeded by the dollar stores, he suddenly started seeing them and literally said, "Holy sh1t, these fuc3ing stores are everywhere!"

If he, an upper middle class skeptic, is so unaware of things on the street, bet your bottom dollar that the people at the top have not a clue in the world. We really are approaching a "let them eat cake" moment.

sgt_doom's picture

Negative, sonny, your brother is sooo far removed from the top, he is as clueless as you appear to be.

The elites know EXACTLY what is transpiring, as they engineered it.

Why do you think that the number one landlord in the USA today is the Blackstone Group, kiddo?

Because they, along with the others, helped bring about the global economic meltdown, and now they buy up everything at bargain basement prices, just like they did during the Great Depression, after the Mellon-Morgan-Rockefeller-Harriman-duPont engineered Great Crash of 1929!

The Blackstone Group --- not coincidentally --- was one of the three business entities which profited directly from the horrible events of 9/11/01 (the other two being AIG and Veritas Capital).

There are no coincidences. . . .

Catch a clue!

sgt_doom's picture

That is (fracking will save us) what the pundits say, after all?

Seriously, though, even CNN (about 7 or 8 months ago) finally reported the latest stats from the Census Bureau that one out of every two Americans rates as poor.

That ain't indicative of any middle class, chums!