How Deep Is Your Depression?

By David Haggith – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

We are nearing that mid-point in July when I said we would start to see the news turn from euphoria-inducing reopening positives to depression-developing realism.

Speaking of stock-market bulls who are stampeding uphill on the euphoria side, I wrote,

Right now the farce is with them — reopening has arrived! And these stupid people will believe that means they were right about the “V,” virtually assuring they continue to bet the market up for a little while…. The reopening means economic statistics will improve rapidly. That will give a lot of stupid people many reasons to believe they were right to think the obliterated economy would experience a V-shaped recovery.

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U.S. dairy farmers dump milk as pandemic upends food markets

By P.J. Huffstutter – Re-Blogged From Yahoo!

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Dairy farmer Jason Leedle felt his stomach churn when he got the call on Tuesday evening.

“We need you to start dumping your milk,” said his contact from Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the largest U.S. dairy cooperative.

Despite strong demand for basic foods like dairy products amid the coronavirus pandemic, the milk supply chain has seen a host of disruptions that are preventing dairy farmers from getting their products to market.

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Dead Malls: The Steady Decline of American Shopping Centers

By Competitive Enterprise Institute- Re-Blogged From Headline Wealth

The kind of American chain stores and retail formats that dominated the second half of the 20th century have fallen on hard times in the 21st, and commentary on this influential and dislocating trend has become a cottage industry unto itself. Amid coverage in the business press on topics like “the winners and losers of the retail apocalypse” and how “1 in 3 American malls are doomed,” there is even a vibrant and, to many, inexplicable cultural fascination with retail history and dead malls.

The question of how the United States ended up with so many large, enclosed suburban shopping centers built between 1960 and 2000 is an interesting one. Naturally, trends in urban planning and government housing policy played a role. We wouldn’t have had as many suburban malls—or as many suburbs—without the interstate highway system.

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How’s That Recession Coming?

Pretty good if you ask me. Most economic indicators this year have moved relentlessly in the direction of recession, and now the Cass Freight Index is saying a US recession may start in the 3rd quarter, fitting up nicely to my prediction that we would be entering recession this summer.

Cass comes on board

The Cass Freight Index is one of the most robust proxies for the US and global economies there is. If freight isn’t moving, the economy is dying. As Cass says, their’s is a simple, fundamental approach to encapsulating the economy:

‘Returning’ to a Silver Dollar Standard

  By Bob Shapiro

I read a lot on the alternative – Gold Bug – web sites that we need to get back on the Gold Standard. While I certainly don’t disagree, I would suggest that we already have Gold and Silver as official, legal tender in the US. It is only the need to implement a way for individuals and businesses to Earn, Spend, and Save using them which prevents general, daily, widespread use.

That implementation actually should be easier and less costly to get off the ground than you might expect.

First, you would need a bank which accepts for deposit – separately – both Paper Dollars and Silver Dollars. (I prefer the Silver Dollars over Gold $50 coins, but either could be used.) A depositer might have a Paper Dollar account with $100 in it, as well as a Silver Dollar account with $10 in it.

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A Wave Of Retail Stores Close

By Mac Slavo – Re-Blogged From Freedom Outpost

Another economic red flag has appeared and its the closure of retail stores.  According to a new report detailing the precarious situation of the current economy, there is “no light at the end of the tunnel” as the closure of brick and mortar stores will continue.

Coresight Research released an outlook of 2019 store closures Wednesday, saying, there’s “no light at the end of the tunnel,” according to several reports, including one from Yahoo News.  According to the global market research firm’s report, a mere six weeks into 2019, United States retailers have announced 2,187 closings of physical stores.  That’s up 23 percent compared to last year. Those closings include 749 Gymboree stores251 Shopko store,  and 94 Charlotte Russe locations.

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Retail Apocalypse and Carmageddon Continue to Pick up Speed

By David Haggith – Re-Blogged From Great Recession Blog

We now know that the Retail Apocalypse took another trip downhill during the all-important holiday season. December reports show retail sales declined more in one month than they have since … the Great Recession. Notice what a common refrain that comparison has become.

Retail Apocalypse snowballs downhill

Retail sales dropped 1.2% month-over-month in December, the largest drop since September 2009, according to data from the Census Bureau released Thursday. The dip was broadly unexpected – consensus estimates had foreseen a 0.1% increase in retail sales for the month, according to Bloomberg data. Excluding autos and gas, which can be volatile, core retail sales plunged 1.8%. “[The] fall in retail sales in December was every bit as bad as it looks,” Capital Economics’ Michael Pearce said bluntly. The weakness was broad-based.

Yahoo!

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7 Business Security Myths You Shouldn’t Believe Anymore

By Ahmad Hamidi – Re-Blogged From Secure Technologies

[My preferred security company in southern New Hampshire is Saetel Systems. Ray has been installing home security & home entertainment systems for 30 years. -Bob]

Here are 7 of the biggest business security misconceptions, and how you can avoid falling for them.
No matter what your business size is, you need a robust security plan to protect your employees, customers, and infrastructure. Sadly, many businesses have misconceptions about what business security is and how it should be implemented. This is why many fall prey to the common security myths listed below…

7 Business Security Myths You Shouldn’t Believe Anymore

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Retail Apocalypse Picks Up Speed

By Michael Snyder – Re-Blogged From Freedom Outpost

Over 20 major retailers have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of last year, and in 2018 we may break the all-time record for annual store closings that was established just last year.  We are in the midst of the worst retail apocalypse in American history, and it appears to be picking up speed as retail giants such as Sears, JCPenney, Brookstone and Mattress Firm spiral toward bankruptcy.  We live at a time when the middle class is being systematically destroyed, and so the truth is that U.S. consumers simply do not have as much discretionary income as they once did.  Many large retailers believed that things would eventually turn around, and they have been fighting very hard to survive, but now, time has run out for quite a few of them.

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Mid-Year Review Of The Retail Apocalypse

By David Haggith – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

For a year and a half I’ve been writing about the retail apocalypse that is going to add to US financial woes. This is not a problem created by economic collapse but a problem that I have said will greatly contribute to economic collapse and that is so massive and widespread that it assures some level of economic decline all on its own. As everyone knows, the problem is largely created by a change in shopping paradigms (mostly due to Amazon) that is shuttering brick and mortar stores as people shop online.

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Retail Vacancy Rate Tops 10 Percent

By Bloomberg – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

Kids across the country are feeling the absence of Toys “R” Us. Retail landlords, too.

The amount of occupied retail real estate in 77 major U.S. metropolitan areas dropped by 3.8 million square feet (350,000 square meters) in the second quarter, the largest decline since 2009, according to a report by researcher Reis Inc. released Monday.

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Your Shopping Experience Is on the Verge of a Major Transformation. Here’s Why.

By Peter H Diamandis – Re-Blogged From Singularity Hub

Exponential technologies (AI, VR, 3D printing, and networks) are radically reshaping traditional retail.

E-commerce giants (Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba) are digitizing the retail industry, riding the exponential growth of computation.

Many brick-and-mortar stores have already gone bankrupt, or migrated their operations online.

Massive change is occurring in this arena.

For those “real-life stores” that survive, an evolution is taking place from a product-centric mentality to an experience-based business model by leveraging AI, VR/AR, and 3D printing.

Let’s dive in.

E-Commerce Trends

Last year, 3.8 billion people were connected online. By 2024, thanks to 5G, stratospheric and space-based satellites, we will grow to 8 billion people online, each with megabit to gigabit connection speeds.

These 4.2 billion new digital consumers will begin buying things online, a potential bonanza for the e-commerce world.

At the same time, entrepreneurs seeking to service these four-billion-plus new consumers can now skip the costly steps of procuring retail space and hiring sales clerks.

Today, thanks to global connectivity, contract production, and turnkey pack-and-ship logistics, an entrepreneur can go from an idea to building and scaling a multimillion-dollar business from anywhere in the world in record time.

And while e-commerce sales have been exploding (growing from $34 billion in Q1 2009 to $115 billion in Q3 2017), e-commerce only accounted for about 10 percent of total retail sales in 2017.

In 2016, global online sales totaled $1.8 trillion. Remarkably, this $1.8 trillion was spent by only 1.5 billion people — a mere 20 percent of Earth’s global population that year.

There’s plenty more room for digital disruption.

AI and the Retail Experience

For the business owner, AI will demonetize e-commerce operations with automated customer service, ultra-accurate supply chain modeling, marketing content generation, and advertising.

In the case of customer service, imagine an AI that is trained by every customer interaction, learns how to answer any consumer question perfectly, and offers feedback to product designers and company owners as a result.

Facebook’s handover protocol allows live customer service representatives and language-learning bots to work within the same Facebook Messenger conversation.

Taking it one step further, imagine an AI that is empathic to a consumer’s frustration, that can take any amount of abuse and come back with a smile every time. As one example, meet Ava. “Ava is a virtual customer service agent, to bring a whole new level of personalization and brand experience to that customer experience on a day-to-day basis,” says Greg Cross, CEO of Ava’s creator, a New Zealand company called Soul Machines.

Predictive modeling and machine learning are also optimizing product ordering and the supply chain process. For example, Skubana, a platform for online sellers, leverages data analytics to provide entrepreneurs constant product performance feedback and maintain optimal warehouse stock levels.

Blockchain is set to follow suit in the retail space. ShipChain and Ambrosus plan to introduce transparency and trust into shipping and production, further reducing costs for entrepreneurs and consumers.

Meanwhile, for consumers, personal shopping assistants are shifting the psychology of the standard shopping experience.

Amazon’s Alexa marks an important user interface moment in this regard.

Alexa is in her infancy with voice search and vocal controls for smart homes. Already, Amazon’s Alexa users, on average, spent more on Amazon.com when purchasing than standard Amazon Prime customers — $1,700 versus $1,400.

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, the future combination of virtual reality shopping, coupled with a personalized, AI-enabled fashion advisor will make finding, selecting, and ordering products fast and painless for consumers.

But let’s take it one step further.

Imagine a future in which your personal AI shopper knows your desires better than you do. Possible? I think so. After all, our future AIs will follow us, watch us, and observe our interactions — including how long we glance at objects, our facial expressions, and much more.

In this future, shopping might be as easy as saying, “Buy me a new outfit for Saturday night’s dinner party,” followed by a surprise-and-delight moment in which the outfit that arrives is perfect.

In this future world of AI-enabled shopping, one of the most disruptive implications is that advertising is now dead.

In a world where an AI is buying my stuff, and I’m no longer in the decision loop, why would a big brand ever waste money on a Super Bowl advertisement?

The dematerialization, demonetization, and democratization of personalized shopping has only just begun.

The In-Store Experience: Experiential Retailing

In 2017, over 6,700 brick-and-mortar retail stores closed their doors, surpassing the former record year for store closures set in 2008 during the financial crisis. Regardless, business is still booming.

As shoppers seek the convenience of online shopping, brick-and-mortar stores are tapping into the power of the experience economy.

Rather than focusing on the practicality of the products they buy, consumers are instead seeking out the experience of going shopping.

The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and computation are exponentially improving the in-person consumer experience.

As AI dominates curated online shopping, AI and data analytics tools are also empowering real-life store owners to optimize staffing, marketing strategies, customer relationship management, and inventory logistics.

In the short term, retail store locations will serve as the next big user interface for production 3D printing (custom 3D printed clothes at the Ministry of Supply), virtual and augmented reality (DIY skills clinics), and the Internet of Things (checkout-less shopping).

In the long term, we’ll see how our desire for enhanced productivity and seamless consumption balances with our preference for enjoyable real-life consumer experiences — all of which will be driven by exponential technologies.

One thing is certain: the nominal shopping experience is on the verge of a major transformation.

Implications

The convergence of exponential technologies has already revamped how and where we shop, how we use our time, and how much we pay.

Twenty years ago, Amazon showed us how the web could offer each of us the long tail of available reading material, and since then, the world of e-commerce has exploded.

And yet we still haven’t experienced the cost savings coming our way from drone delivery, the Internet of Things, tokenized ecosystems, the impact of truly powerful AI, or even the other major applications for 3D printing and AR/VR.

Perhaps nothing will be more transformed than today’s $20 trillion retail sector.

Hold on, stay tuned, and get your AI-enabled cryptocurrency ready.

Join Me

Abundance Digital Online Community: I’ve created a digital/online community of bold, abundance-minded entrepreneurs called Abundance Digital.

Abundance Digital is my ‘onramp’ for exponential entrepreneurs — those who want to get involved and play at a higher level. Click here to learn more.

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It’s Not Just Amazon’s Fault

By Vitaliy Katsenelson, CFA – Re-Blogged From http://contrarianedge.com

Retail stocks have been annihilated recently, despite the economy eking out growth. The fundamentals of the retail business look horrible: Sales are stagnating and profitability is getting worse with every passing quarter.
 
Jeff Bezos and Amazon get most of the credit, but this credit is misplaced. Today, online sales represent only 8.5 percent of total retail sales. Amazon, at $80 billion in sales, accounts only for 1.5 percent of total U.S. retail sales, which at the end of 2016 were around $5.5 trillion. Though it is human nature to look for the simplest explanation, in truth, the confluence of a half-dozen unrelated developments is responsible for weak retail sales.

‘Creative Destruction’ in 2018

By Ed Yardeni – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

The Great Disruption. The end of one year and start of the next is the perfect time to reflect and resolve to change for the better.

At the start of this year, the most popular resolutions involved the typical fare: the desire to get healthy, get organized, live life to the fullest, learn a new hobby, spend less or save more, travel and read more.

Philosophers like to wax poetic about change. Nuggets of wisdom include: “The only thing that is constant is change.” There’s also: “The more things change the more they stay the same.” And for the deep thinkers in the crowd: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Thank you, Heraclitus.

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Stores Try to Survive ‘Retail Apocalypse’

By Associated Press – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

Stores are trying to step up their game online and in person for the critical holiday season, from dangling more discounts to livening up their stores. And Amazon, which is expanding into more areas, has opened its online store of Black Friday discounts.

Department store chain Kohl’s is hoping to woo new customers by emphasizing the exact amount people can save by stacking coupons and other deals. It’s also opening at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, an hour earlier than last year. “Retail is changing. And there is market share to gain,” said CEO-elect Michelle Gass.

Wal-Mart’s New Robots Scan Shelves to Restock Items Faster

By Thomson Reuters – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is rolling out shelf-scanning robots in more than 50 U.S. stores to replenish inventory faster and save employees time when products run out.

The approximately 2-foot (0.61-meter) robots come with a tower that is fitted with cameras that scan aisles to check stock and identify missing and misplaced items, incorrect prices and mislabeling. The robots pass that data to store employees, who then stock the shelves and fix errors.

Image: Wal-Mart's New Robots Scan Shelves to Restock Items Faster
Gary-Arbach/Dreamstime

Stores Struggle to Find Workers Amid Retail ‘Armageddon’

By Thomson/Reuters – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

U.S. retailers are finding it increasingly difficult to hire employees for stores and for middle and higher management as low pay and a feeling of uncertainty clouds the industry following a spate of bankruptcies and store closures.

Retailers including Macy’s Inc. and J.C. Penney have said they will hire the same or fewer seasonal workers for the holidays this year than last, while some, like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., have chosen not to hire temporary workers at all.

Image: Help Wanted: Stores Struggle to Find Workers Amid Retail 'Armageddon'
(Ronfromyork/Dreamstime)

I Know What the Economy Did Last Summer Part 2: The Real Estate Rollover

By David Haggith – Re-Blogged From Great Recession Blog

In fact, I knew what the economy did last summer before summer even began. Since the beginning of the year, I have been writing that it appeared housing was reaching a new bubblicious peak and that the real estate market was getting ready to roll over. Just before the start of the summer, I confirmed that prediction by saying that it looked like that process had begun. I anticipate it will be a slow turnover at first, just as it was in 2007, which did not reach free fall until late in 2008. Likewise, I anticipate the present decline will not reach free fall until 2018.

While housing played out about as I expected this summer (see below), the more obvious collapse right now is developing in metropolitan commercial real estate, particularly in retail space due to the retail apocalypse. Even longtime commercial real-estate mogul Sam Zell warned last week that he would not consider investing any capital in retail real estate. In Zell’s words, the real estate landscape looks “like a falling knife.”

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Amazon to Test Own Delivery Service to Rival FedEx, UPS

By Spencer Soper (at Bloomberg) _ Re-Blogged From Newsmax

Amazon.com Inc. is experimenting with a new delivery service intended to make more products available for free two-day delivery and relieve overcrowding in its warehouses, according to two people familiar with the plan, which will push the online retailer deeper into functions handled by longtime partners United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp.

The service began two years ago in India, and Amazon has been slowly marketing it to U.S. merchants in preparation for a national expansion, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the U.S. pilot project is confidential. Amazon is calling the project Seller Flex, one person said. The service began on a trial basis this year in West Coast states with a broader rollout planned in 2018, the people said. Amazon declined to comment.

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Amazon Is Subduing Inflation

By Edward Yardeni – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

“World’s Greatest Price Wrecker” is a moniker that seems appropriate for Amazon, especially after the price cuts it announced earlier this week at its new subsidiary, Whole Foods.

However, the phrase actually dates back to the 1930s.

It was used in ads by Michael J. Cullen, who’s widely credited with having had the idea for supermarkets. During an era of mom-and-pop enterprises, the suggestion of “monstrous” stores, with plenty of parking, separate departments, self-service, discount pricing, and high-volume sales was revolutionary.

When Cullen’s idea was ignored by his then-employer Kroger Grocery & Baking Co., he struck out and opened King Kullen on Long Island. Ads for the new enterprise cried out: “King Kullen: World’s Greatest Price Wrecker.” King Kullen continues today as a family-controlled operation on Long Island with 32 locations.

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Macy’s, Kohl’s Sales Declines Renew Fears of Retail Apocalypse

From Thomson/Reuters – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

Shares of department store chains Macy’s Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. tumbled on Thursday as the companies reported a drop in quarterly same-store sales, stoking concerns that their turnaround may still be a long way off.

While the declines in same-store sales were not as bad as feared, gross margins at both the companies slipped as they continued to rely on discounts and promotions to woo customers back to their stores.

Image: Macy's, Kohl's Sales Declines Renew Fears of Retail Apocalypse
Dean-Neitman/Dreamstime

 

Macy’s gross margins fell to 40.3 percent from 40.9 percent a year earlier, while those of Kohl’s fell to 39.4 percent from 39.5 percent.  Continue reading

Amazon’s Whole Foods Conquest Is a ‘Game Changer’

By Mark Lennihan – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

CNBC’s Jim Cramer says Amazon.com Inc.’s purchase of Whole Foods is a “game changer” for the food industry.

Amazon.com Inc said on Friday it would buy U.S. organic supermarket chain Whole Foods Market Inc for $13.7 billion, including debt, marking the internet retailer’s largest deal and biggest foray into the brick-and-mortar retail sector, Reuters reported.

“This is such a game changer. … They will now dominate food within the next two years,” the “Mad Money” host said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“I’m taking down numbers for everybody who sells food. Everybody. Because you can’t compete [with] Amazon. They will not let you compete,” Cramer said, noting Amazon can now “change the whole paradigm.”  Continue reading

Supermarket Meltdown as Global Deep-Discounters Promise Price War in Stagnating US Market

By Wolf Richter – Re-Blogged From Wolf Street

Aldi’s $5 billion bet at a brutal time.

Today, Albertson’s explained in an amended S-4 filing for a debt exchange offering just how tough things have gotten for traditional supermarket chains.

As is so often the case, there is a private equity angle to it. Albertson’s was acquired in a 2005 LBO by a group of PE firms led by Cerberus. In January 2015, it acquired Safeway to eliminate some competition. It then wanted to sell its shares to the public. But in October 2015, as brick-and-mortar retail began to melt down, it scrapped its IPO.

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Retailers Going Bankrupt at Staggering Rate

By F McGuire – Re-Blogged From http://www.newsmax.com

Retailers reportedly are filing for bankruptcy protection at a disturbing rate that’s flirting with recessionary levels.

Meanwhile, a steady stream of store closures continues to haunt the battered American retail industry.

“It’s only April, and nine retailers have already filed for bankruptcy since the start of the year — as many as all of last year,” Business Insider explained.

“2017 will be the year of retail bankruptcies,” Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer, told Business Insider. “Retailers are running out of cash, and the dominoes are starting to fall.”

More than 3,500 stores are expected to close over the next several months, BI reported.

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What’s Left To Drive The Recovery? Not Much

By John Rubino – Re-Blogged From Dollar Collapse

US growth, such as it is, has lately been driven by a handful of hot sectors. Car sales have set records, high-end real estate is generally way up, and federal spending – based on last year’s jump in the national debt – is booming.

But now the private sector part of that equation is shifting into low gear. Cars in particular:

Economy Will Miss That New-Car Smell

(Wall Street Journal) – The annual pace of light-vehicle sales fell to a seasonally adjusted 17.2 million in the first quarter from 18 million. That the decline has come despite generous incentives from car companies and still-low gasoline prices suggests that sales are past their peak.

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