Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer with $400bn sales, saw deflation in its core US market last quarter.
Prices were down minus 1.6%, even more than the -1% forecast. The cause was lack of confidence amongst shoppers, many of whom are now living "paycheck to paycheck".
The major retailers have an excellent record as forecasters of future trends for the chemical industry. So it is worrying, to say the least, to find CEO Mike Duke expecting that U.S. sales will be "more challenging" in the current quarter. The only note of optimisim was that he went on to add the hope that they might "improve as the year progresses".