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This Is Improvement?

From CNN: Wal-Mart lost shoppers during the holidays

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Despite aggressive price-slashing, free shipping and other gimmicks, Wal-Mart lost shoppers during the critical Christmas shopping period, resulting in a same-store sales decline in its fourth quarter.

Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), the world’s largest retailer, reported an overall 1.1% decline in its same-store sales — it’s seventh straight decline in the quarterly measure, this time in the period that includes the key November-December gift-buying months.

Nothing is going to improve until there is an increase in demand, and that can’t happen without jobs. The pathetic “stimulus” bill was too small to provide a real boost to the economy, and the austerity that everyone is championing will drive the US back to recession and deeper into deflation.

11 comments

1 Badtux { 02.23.11 at 12:36 am }

So I managed to drop another coffee cup and needed some new ones, big ones. I went to Wal-Mart. There were no big mugs for sale there, just dish sets for way more than Chinese junk is worth. So I went to the Dollar Tree, and they had some big nice-looking mugs for $1 apiece and I bought four of them to replenish my coffee mug supply.

Wal-Mart’s losing customers for two reasons — first, their clientele isn’t able to afford them anymore and is going to the dollar stores instead, and second, the dollar stores are selling merchandise that’s pretty much the same quality as the cheap Chinese junk you get at Wal-Mart, but for much less. And yeah, I know I’m probably getting a year’s supply of lead with each cup of coffee. I live in the Silicon Valley, where our water tends to smell more like industrial cleaners than like any liquid you’d want to drink. And your point is?

– Badtux the Frugal Penguin

2 Steve Bates { 02.23.11 at 10:23 am }

Dollar Tree… isn’t that what fundie Christians are always preaching against the practice of?

3 Badtux { 02.23.11 at 10:59 am }

No no, they worship dollars, as long as they go into the pockets of fundie preachers 😈 .

– Badtux the Southern Penguin

4 hipparchia { 02.23.11 at 1:13 pm }

Dollar Tree… isn’t that what fundie Christians are always preaching against the practice of?

took me a moment to catch that one, but now i’m cleaning up the coffee on my keyboard. lolgrrrr.

5 Bryan { 02.23.11 at 2:50 pm }

The Reagan-Bush team are responsible for more than $13 trillion of the debt, so having a $1.5 trillion stimulus package that actually creates jobs, rather than the $ 700 billion TARP package to cover the gambling debts of Wall Street and the less that $800 billion that was predominately tax cuts for people who didn’t need the money, and didn’t spend it when they got it.

The purpose of economic stimulus is to increase demand which creates jobs. The best way of doing it is by building and repairing infrastructure which creates real assets, rather than paper assets.

As the US has fiat currency, the national debt is fairly irrelevant, and the so-called “crisis” is just theater to impress the masses. Not spending now, will make matters worse, as you, Mr. Duff, will find out in short order thanks to the clowns now in charge of your national budget. If you don’t understand the difference between the budget of an individual, the budget of a business, and the budget of a country with fiat currency, you can’t really understand the principles involved.

Ireland is screwed because they covered the gambling debts of their banks, and they are part of the Euro zone. If they hadn’t joined the Euro, they would be in good shape. If they hadn’t covered the gambling losses they would be in great shape compared to other countries in Europe.

Steve, you are definitely out of your funk and have found your groove again. That was excruciatingly bad!!!!

6 Badtux { 02.23.11 at 3:13 pm }

Mr. Duff once again proves that he has not yet arrived in the 15th century mentally. Either that, or Johanes Gutenberg did not invent the movable-type press in the 1440’s in his universe. I wonder what color the unicorns are in his universe?

And we wouldn’t even have to print the whole $17T. All but $5T of the U.S. debt is owed to, err, OURSELVES. Yeppers, we owe OURSELVES our own money! So… why would we have trouble paying back to ourselves money that we owe ourselves? We can just tax ourselves to pay ourselves and… err… we just end up recirculating our money then to pay back our debt to ourself. No big deal, jeez.

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin

7 Badtux { 02.23.11 at 3:19 pm }

BTW, since I mentioned Dollar Tree above, they released their last-quarter numbers yesterday. Per-store sales increased by 3.9% last quarter over a year earlier (for stores open at least a year). They’re one of the few retailers whose sales are actually growing. Tells you just how shitty the economy really is, that $1 Chinese junk is the best people can afford… and tells you just how deranged Wall Street really is, that they decided to *SELL OFF* shares of Dollar Tree (5.2% decrease in share prices) today because a 3.9% return wasn’t high enough for them to bother with!

– Badtux the Economics Penguin

8 Bryan { 02.23.11 at 9:33 pm }

Dollar Tree must not abuse their employees enough to win approval with the analysts. That’s the complaint against Costco. Costco management to points to their reduced costs due to low employee turnover as paying for the increased benefits.

See, Badtux, some businesses are capable of learning efficiency and cost-saving from the government.

[For those who don’t read Badtux’s blog, he points out that low labor churn reduces the cost of government employees, but Wall Street can’t look at the numbers and tell.]

9 paintedjaguar { 02.24.11 at 12:47 am }

Starting in the 80’s it seemed to me that almost every business in the damned country abandoned the idea of sustainable profit to pursue high-markup sales and exponential growth. Business boosters regarded that as a good thing, but I think this mindset has been not just an indicator, but also one of the drivers of middle-class decline. Just my cranky, nostalgic opinion. I started getting really uneasy when suddenly every other magazine on the stands was named Money or Success or something similar.

See also yuppies, MBA, leveraged buyout, greed-is-good, market segmentation, cashing out, “upscale market”.

10 Bryan { 02.24.11 at 11:23 am }

Yes, PJ, it all started when business schools began to turn out criminals instead of managers, who decided to make a quick buck by selling “the seed”, instead of directing businesses so they would last and provide solid profits for generations.

When you move the R&D budget to marketing and redesign the packaging instead of the products, you make more money in the short term, but destroy the business in the end. Leveraged buyouts that are financed by selling assets and taking on huge debts is behind the demise of newspapers, which actually make profits in the 15 to 25% range – a range that can’t support the debt that was taken on.

Like I said, Mr Duff, you can’t tell the difference between personal and sovereign debt, and it was business that did the gambling.

FYI – it is always the Democratic Presidents that balance US budgets. Reagan and the Bushes are responsible for over $13 trillion of the total US debt. All of the other Presidents in US history together only ran up the remaining $1 trillion and they had to pay off the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. “Conservatives” can’t be trusted with money, they waste it on their “friends”.

11 Badtux { 02.25.11 at 9:59 am }

Hello Duffer, it doesn’t matter, for reasons explained in this very credible and well documented news story.

I, for one, eagerly await being eaten by our gorgeous tall blond alien overlords.

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin