Retail Apocalypse: Why Are Major Retail Chains All Over America Collapsing?

If the economy is improving, then why are many of the largest retail chains in America closing hundreds of stores?  When I was growing up, Sears, J.C. Penney, Best Buy and RadioShack were all considered to be unstoppable retail powerhouses.  But now it is being projected that all of them will close hundreds of stores before the end of 2013.  Even Wal-Mart is running into problems.  A recent internal Wal-Mart memo that was leaked to Bloombergdescribed February sales as a “total disaster”.  So why is this happening?  Why are major retail chains all over America collapsing?  Is the “retail apocalypse” upon us?  Well, the truth is that this is just another sign that the U.S. economy is falling apart right in front of our eyes.  Incomes are declining, taxes are going up, government dependence is at an all-time high, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is employed has been steadily falling since 2006.  The top 10% of all income earners in the U.S. are still doing very well, but most U.S. consumers are either flat broke or are drowning in debt.  The large disposable incomes that the big retail chains have depended upon in the past simply are not there anymore.  So retail chains all over the United States are now closing up unprofitable stores.  This is especially true in low income areas.

When you step back and take a look at the bigger picture, the rapid decline of some of our largest retail chains really is stunning.

It is happening already in some areas, but soon half empty malls and boarded up storefronts will litter the landscapes of cities all over America.

Just check out some of these store closing numbers for 2013.  These numbers are from a recent Yahoo Finance article

Best Buy

Forecast store closings: 200 to 250

Sears Holding Corp.

Forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125

J.C. Penney

Forecast store closings: 300 to 350

Office Depot

Forecast store closings: 125 to 150

Barnes & Noble

Forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments


Forecast store closings: 500 to 600


Forecast store closings: 150 to 175


Forecast store closings: 450 to 550

The RadioShack in a nearby town just closed up where I live.  This is all happening so fast that it is hard to believe.

But the truth is that those store closings are not the entire story.  When you dig deeper you find a lot more retailers that are in trouble.

For example, Blockbuster recently announced that this year they will be closing about 300 stores and eliminating about 3,000 jobs.

Toy manufacturer Hasbro recently announced that they will be reducing the size of their workforce by about 10 percent.

Even Wal-Mart is going through a tough stretch right now.  According to documents that were leaked to Bloomberg, Wal-Mart is having an absolutely disastrous February…

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had the worst sales start to a month in seven years as payroll-tax increases hit shoppers already battling a slow economy, according to internal e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News.

“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal- Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”

So what in the world is going on here?

The mainstream media continues to proclaim that we are experiencing a robust “economic recovery”, but at the same time there are a whole host of indications that things are continually getting worse.

Even global cell phone sales actually declined slightly in 2012.  That was the first time that has happened since the last recession.

Perhaps it is time that we faced the truth.  The middle class is shrinking, incomes are declining and there are not nearly as many jobs as there used to be.

Mort Zuckerman pointed this out in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal

The U.S. labor market, which peaked in November 2007 when there were 139,143,000 jobs, now encompasses only 132,705,000 workers, a drop of 6.4 million jobs from the peak. The only work that has increased is part-time, and that is because it allows employers to reduce costs through a diminished benefit package or none at all.

So how can the mainstream media be talking about how “good” things are if we still have 6.4 million fewer jobs than we had back in November 2007?

And sadly, things may soon be getting a lot worse.  If Congress does not do anything about the “sequester”, millions of federal workers may shortly be facing some very painful furloughs according to CNN

Federal workers could start facing furloughs as early as April, according to federal agencies trying to prepare for the worst.

Unless Congress steps in, some $85 billion in massive spending reductions will hit the federal government, doling out furloughs to much of the nation’s 2.1 million federal workforce, experts say.

If you still live in an area of the country where the stores and the restaurants are booming, you should be very thankful because that is not the reality for most of the country.

I often write about the stunning economic decline of major cities such as Detroit, but there are huge sections of rural America that are in even worse shape than Detroit in many ways.

For example, many Indian reservations all over America have been shamefully neglected by the federal government and have become hotbeds for crime, drugs and poverty.

Business Insider recently profiled the Wind River Indian reservation in western Wyoming.  The following is a brief excerpt from thatoutstanding article

The Wind River Indian Reservation is not an easy place to get to, but I had to see it for myself.

Thirty-five-hundred square miles of prairie and mountains in western Wyoming, the reservation is home to bitter ancestral enemies: the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.

Even among reservations, it’s renowned for brutal crime, widespread drug use, and legal dumping of toxic waste.

You can see some amazing photos of the Wind River Indian reservationright here.

It is hard to believe that there are places like that in America, but the truth is that conditions like that are spreading to more U.S. communities with each passing day.

We are a nation that is in an advanced state of decline.  But as long as the financial markets are okay, our leaders don’t seem too concerned about the suffering that everyone else is going through.

In fact, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan essentially admitted as much during a recent interview with CNBC.  The following is how a Zero Hedge article summarized that interview…

Starting at around 1:50, Greenspan states the odds of sequester occurring are very high – in fact, the playdough-faced ex-Chair-head notes, “I find it very difficult to find a scenario in which [the sequester] doesn’t happen” But when asked how this will affect the economy, Awkward Alan is unusually clearly spoken – “the issue is how does it affect the stock market.”

While not so many of our leaders have taken the path to direct truthiness, Greenspan somewhat shocks a Botox’d and babbling Bartiromo when he admits “the stock market is the key player in the game of economic growth.”

Bartiromo shifts uncomfortably in her seat, strokes her imaginary beard and stares blankly as Greenspan explains that while the sequester will have a real effect on the real economy, “if the stock market can hold up through this, then the effect will be rather minor.”

Do you see?

As long as the stock market is moving higher they think that everything is just fine and dandy.

And the Obama administration?

They continue to pursue the same policies that got us into this mess.

Their idea of “economic reform” is to threaten to sue businesses that do not hire ex-convicts.

And of course now that Obama has been re-elected he is putting a tremendous amount of effort into “stimulating the economy”.

For example, he spent this weekend golfing in Florida, and the Obamas recently spent about 20 million taxpayer dollarsvacationing in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is getting worse with each passing day.

If you doubt that economic conditions are getting worse, please read this article: “Show This To Anyone That Believes That ‘Things Are Getting Better’ In America“.

When you look at the cold, hard numbers, it is undeniable what is happening to America.

And our leaders are not doing anything to fix our problems.  In fact, most of the time they are just making things worse.

So buckle up and get prepared.  We are in for very bumpy ride, and this is only just the beginning.

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  1. LEt the government hire… More jobs for hte governent social welfare class…. That will save the day!

  2. The government social welfare class will save us. Don’t worry.

    They will confiscate the wealth of the rich, to motivate everyone else to work harder and smarter.

    Presto…. The government social welfare class will write more laws, and our economy will be growing like magic!

  3. The IRS will teach them a lesson!

    Nobody challenges the government social welfare class…. We will confiscate your wealth… We have the laws on our side!

  4. Ya keep waiting for the free ride. Instead of acitvely generating your own….

    U must be a member of the government social welfare class!

  5. Brilliant! Wow that is really easy… More solar panells… We can get more government innspectors, and hire more government people to preach the benefits of solar… and then we can make laws to encourage tax payers to voluntarily comply with our laws. If not we can make them criminals….

    Punish Manning & Snowden for telling us the truth! We want to be treated as mushrooms!

  6. Ya… let’s steal from the rich… We can make those resources more productive. Consuming beer and smokes and watching TV creates good joe six pack jobs.

    And we can beef up the government social welfare class to really add value to our economy… They will out produce more rules, more paper, more paper shufflers

    U r full of great ideas…..

  7. We, the members of the government social welfare class are entitled to that weatlth, we are owed that $.

    We will vote ourselfves more raises, and you will pay your taxes, or we will encourage you to voluntarily comply or else….. we will make u a criminal of the state….

    Bradely Manning These people know our power….. U don’t argue with the government social welfare class…. We have the power!

  8. Man…. Let the government social welfare class take all the money from the Rich… They do not need it.

    We, the members of the government social welfare class are entitled to that $. We can buy beer and smokes… That creates jobs.

    We also create lots of jobs for other members of the government social welfare class 1) to confiscate the wealth of the rich 2) to redistribute this wealth 3) to explain to the rich Y it is good to give 4) we can buy bullets to help with our voluntary compliance programs…. 🙂

  9. Give more $ to your governments, and help the government social welfare class redistribute your wealth!

    .the government social welfare class will fix the economy. They just need more resources, and understanding…. Let the government social welfare class redistribute more of your money to those who need it most.

    That will create Millions of jobs. Redistributing other people’s wealth is a tough job, they will need more overtime, and they can get their family to get onto the government social welfare payroll plan to help redistribute the wealth faster!

  10. I saw it in 2000 when suddenly we had more applications than we needed. Back in the 1990s one had to be lucky to get a candidate to work for us. But it took this country another 7 years before they realized that this country is in trouble, thank the media,, which is controlled.

  11. Success is to do better than your parents and I expected for my kids to do better than me, that is progressive. But that dream was killed with the 1%’s power grab and greed. Now they are ruining the world, congress is killing us with their bad decisions of ethanol (Food for people), Agent Orange for the super weeds, etc. The end is near.

  12. Let us go back to the 70s when the corporations paid a lot of taxes and still survived and so did everyone else. The 1%ers income rose 138 % while the productivity rose 80% people’s wages only rose 11%. Retailers are going broke because there is no buying power. One has to pay the people a decent wage before one can claim a good economy. They are paying so little these days, cutting hours left and right, and people need the assistance of social programs to survive.

    Blame congress and their laws, they drove manufacturing away and then expect the same economy. Which people have a lot of money buried in their backyard? And try saving at the bank, there is no incentive to even try but the rich, hey, they get all the breaks. America is a corporate Welfare State these days.


  14. If your newspaper list Tax Liens against businesses in your area, and bankrupts are on the rise also, add that to foreclosures, the economy sucks big time

  15. Yeah, right Dave. This country of ours started collapsing a long time before Trickle Down! Try with your beloved Socialist Pres. F. D. Roosevelt. You cannot continue to take from doers and give to the takers. But, you people who feel this way will be in control from this point forward because we as a country have gotten to the point where the more than half who are takers will continue to populate the White House and Congress with leaders who will continue to give to them. Thank goodness for a few conservative (and not your favorite whipping boys, the Tea Partiers) leaders who try to keep a handle on this.

  16. What a bunch of Bull Feces. You big bunch of crybabies ought to relocate to some countries where they are truly oppressed. I am a long, long way from 100K, even a long way from 50K, and I certainly don’t have the gimme, gimme, gimme thought process that you whiners have. Get a life and enjoy it. Maybe you should take your intelligence and start your own business and then you could really be promoting confiscatory taxes! Bunch of dodo’s!

  17. This appears to be universal. In our small city (22,000) of Plainview, Tx. with around 11,000 jobs lost our largest employer (Cargil) the first of Feburary. This has eliminated 2200 jobs and we are yet to see the domino effect of it. My estimation is it will wash out around 3000 jobs after some small businesses have been forced to close. I am lucky I sold out two businesses I owned and retired a few years ago but I have a lot of friends who are on edge waiting to see how this will wash out. I am afraid the entire country is in for a rough ride.

  18. The World States Of America (Not the USA), There is no loyalty to any one country for wealthy people only for them to follow wherever they can keep profiting from. Also, Immigrants that come to this country are not really citizens they are just wanting to accumulate fancy gadgets, electronics, etc. and also to send money to their country like Mexico, etc. The Obama Administration (not just Obama himself but also the Whole administration) is a Welfare government dependent system and has no idea about how a business operates. Bush was a business person who understood the mechanics of how our system of capitalism operates. There is no Hope for future graduates of College, except for Doctors and lawyers and Police that support the necessary social disease of a system that continues to stifle and eliminate individual creativity and innovation.

    The Biggest Joke of All is to heavily Tax the 1% percenters. WAKE UP, they have always avoided paying excessive taxes and they will just leave the country and with them, the jobs.

    This current administration keeps shooting itself in the Foot, by continual wasteful spending and taxing on useless projects, such as Solyndra (a company for Solar energy), Went Bankrupt and wasted ($500 Mill. taxpayer dollars) What happened to the $900 Billion Stimulus Package in 2009?

    Our Standard of Living already has been compromised and lowered due to this

    administrations lack of understanding of business.

  19. Very simple. We learned to curtail our credit card spending. Income stagnating means every purchase is scrutinised. So, as we do not have money, we cannot support the businesses.
    Don’t blame Obama! He does not hire or set wage levels. Bsinesses do – or don’t.

  20. had me up to the 300k tax . While it is true we need the tax u mention, and 300k sounds good ,[ it is not fair for 1 or 2 years spurt at this level unless averaged . it is fair if it is done on the top .1% not the American dream top 15%. [unless its gov or state jobs, in which case they are paid to much] That is why I believe in the graduated taxes . [ and we did ok in the 50 ‘s & 60’s with the graduated tax ]]

  21. “killed the golden goose” is the most accurate summary I too have found regarding our USofA scenario… and it’s heartbreaking. I use it often, though I say “killing….” but I maybe overly optimistic…. ya know, Hope and all..

  22. During 0bama’s first term, many banks and businesses closed or were forced to merge with other companies.

    It is not getting any better. The administration knows these facts to be true. They also prepare for the possible social collapse which is the reason for the massive hollow-point ammunition stockpiling.

  23. Things of our Nations economy is not the fault of just one person it’s all of our as Americans but those who do injustice, Tax,welfare,food stamps,fraud and any other type too ! city and State employee’s who are corrupt in their day time work @ for the public. Medicare and all type of health services fraud , well it hurt our Nation as a whole which has lead me to thing ? maybe Congress is just tire of blessing and now it time to pay the piper???? ” America is only reaping what it has sown.

  24. This country has been collapsing for a long time. It started with our famous Trickel Down Theory…Each president from there has taken his part and responsibility. This President just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. (I’m still waiting for the first trickel)

  25. Government debt has increased 60% the last four years, and increasing at a faster rate now. Taking money from those pulling the wagon, and letting more get in the wagon is not the solution. Money is like water, and takes the path of least resistance. Money is worried and leaving the county.
    Aren’t all of these politicians and government employees, our employees. Why not lay some off, in all categories. The have built empires, and will do anything to protect the empire. You see this in business, schools, churches and most any other organization. However, the ones on the private side go broke when the load gets to heavy to pull.
    How about stockholders holding the boards responsible, no cross boarding allowed.Make the USA follow the same accounting rules they require everyone else to use.
    Our economic problems are built on poor and fraudulent education, false information based on who can get the most from Uncle Sam. Eisenhower was worried about the government/industrial complex. However, he was more concerned with the government/education complex. Together they have killed the Golden Goose.

  26. This country is going to flat out FAIL if something is not done like yesterday!! The middle class is going going gone and the super rich are fine and more and more are becoming the piss-poor group of suckers in the US.

  27. Right–before Obama was elected, there was no personal or public debt, no bubble, and America was in FABulous economic shape! Then Obama was elected and it all came tumbling down. IT’S ALL HIS FAULT!! Right, Jer.

  28. You want to know why chain stores are closing? The concentration of wealth in this country prohibits more and more people from buying anything but their absolute essentials. You can’t base an economy long term on continued consumption by a continually growing population unless you have an infinite resource base, and you can’t make that economy work even temporarily if the majority of “consumers” can’t make enough money to feed their families and make discretionary purchases. Period. Corporate America and its hookers in Congress are driving this country back into feudalism, but with this difference: under medieval feudalism, the lords couldn’t drive their serfs off the land they worked on, and the lords owed their serfs some security. Corporate lords don’t owe anyone anything, and don’t give a damn about any country as long as they can buy the military and the government. We need confiscatory taxes on those with incomes over $300k, and they can suck it up or hang themselves.

  29. YEAH… Bush junior and his Republican dominated house and senate finally accomplished what Reagan and his supporters set out to do… to destroy the United States and sell off the country to Communist China. THE ONLY WAY TO DEAL WITH SITUATION IS TO RUN RIGHT WING REPUBLICANS TOTALLY OUT OF OFFICE, AND START A NEW NEW DEAL… get rid of all the rules and institutions that benefit the wealthy, and rebuild the country around its working people…like Roosevelt and his supporters did…THEY USED WORLD WAR 2 TO JUMPSTART THAT TRANSISTION… WE CAN AND MUST USE THE RISE OF A SOLAR ENERGY POWERED CIVILIZATION TO DO IT…And if Republicans continue to whine and complain and obstruct progress, we need to just bulldozer them out of the way… Send the Conservatives to the Middle East, where they will be right at home with the Conservatives who dominate that region…HA… RIGHT AT HOME??? Conservatives in the Middle East will use our Conservatives for target practice… those folks LOVE their guns even more than our right wingers do.

  30. Did you see the movie, “Zero Dark Thirty” ?? Good flick, historical fiction. Did you watch the backgrounds in Pakistan and other places outside the American borders? Go watch the movie again. Pay attention to those backdrops. That is America real soon.

    I visited some of those places and other places just like while in the military service. It was all too familiar. I look at all the closed-down malls and factories here in America and cringe.

  31. DUH!!! Only the corporations, banks and rich are getting richer while the middle class and poor are getting poorer and decreasing their spending. The rich do not buy at those stores and thye put excess funds in tax shelters overseas.

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