US retail sales have failed to see the rise that most economists, and the US Federal Reserve, confidently forecast at the beginning of the year. The theory was that lower oil prices would stimulate discretionary spending, and ensure that the long-promised economic recovery finally arrived. But September sales were up just 0.1% versus August, and […]
Tag Archives | Wal-Mart
US retail sales tell a sorry story about the state of underlying demand. US sales at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest store chain, have failed to grow for 6 consecutive quarters, with shopper traffic falling 1.1% in Q2. The company’s explanation for the problems is worth pondering by anyone in business: It is facing intense competition […]
The past few years have seen an increasing number of countries and major companies moving to ban or reduce the use of plastic bags. Now Austin, state capital of Texas, and the 14th largest US city has voted to introduce criminal penalties for any retailer breaking its new law. ICIS’ Joe Kamalick notes that “the […]
The world’s leading retailers have been extremely reliable leading indicators for the chemical industry, since the Great Recession began. They were the first, back in July 2007, to highlight the major changes underway in consumer markets. Tesco, the world’s 3rd largest retailer, warned then that they were changing their focus away from more affluent shoppers […]
The blog is a great believer in the predictive power of the retail sector. Wal-Mart and Tesco were the first to spot the downturn in the summer of 2007, a year before it became obvious to everyone else. Now Wal-Mart’s problems are providing some important messages about how companies need to adjust their strategies to […]
Luxury stores are doing well around the world. The great central bank lending sprees have ensured up-market consumers still have money to spend. But many other parts of the market are struggling, as consumers worry about unemployment. Higher food and energy prices are also reducing their discretionary spend – which, of course, has a direct […]
The major retail groups are excellent indicators of future trends in chemical consumption. Since before the Crisis began, consumers have been focusing more on price and value-for money. Now Wal-Mart is reporting that consumers face “more pressure than a year ago“. This suggests that demand destruction is already well underway. And Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke […]
All is clearly not well with the Western consumer. The stimulus programmes have not given them renewed confidence about the future. Instead, they are focused on the prospect of higher taxes and rising unemployment. Two examples make this mood change very clear: • As the above slide shows, EU auto sales are falling off the […]
Major changes are taking place in US retailing. They echo the changing focus of emerging Asian markets. Taken together, these must have important implications for chemical demand. US retail markets have been evolving over the past 3 years, as the Crisis began to hit, and the baby-boomers moved beyond the peak 25 – 54 age […]
Consumer spending is 70% of US GDP. And because US GDP is so large, this means the US consumer is 17% of global GDP. This is the same as the combined GDP of China and Japan, who rank 2 and 3 after the USA. So a change in US consumer spending matters. And it particularly […]
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Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry.
The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts.
Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.