Tag Archives | Wal-Mart

Cash poor, time rich US consumers cause retail sales to plateau

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 […]

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US retail sales hit by declines in income and household wealth

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 […]

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Time to stop making single-use plastic bags?

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 […]

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Tesco says ‘Today is the New Normal’

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 […]

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Wal-Mart sends a message

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 […]

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US consumers focus on needs, not wants

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 […]

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Wal-Mart says consumers under “more pressure”

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 […]

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Western consumers cut back spending

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 […]

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US consumers turn to Dollar stores

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 […]

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Baby-Boomers cut spending, start saving

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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