Retail Sales, Wal-Mart, US Stocks Plunge

January 15, 2016

Friday – January 15

The Commerce Department reported on Friday that December sales at retailers fell in December to end the weakest year since 2009. Retail Sales fell 0.1% last month versus the +0.1% expected. For all of 2015, Retail Sales rose 2.1%, the smallest advance of the current economic expansion. Despite the extra cash provided by lower gas prices, Americans may have socked away those savings, instead of spending them on holiday shopping.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, announced today that it will be closing 269 stores, with half of those in the U.S. due to increased competition. The other half of the closings will come from Brazil, which has been a challenge for the retailer. The closures will impact 16,000 workers, with 10,000 of those here in the States. The company did say that it would try to place those workers affected in other locations, but when that’s not possible it will provide laid-off workers with 60 days of pay.

U.S. Stocks are plunging once again today as the carnage in the Stock markets continues its blistering downward spiral for the start of 2016. Today alone, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 are both down 2.8%, while the NASDAQ is down 3.8%. Those are big losses for a trading day. The sell-off comes on the heels of declining oil prices, slowing global economies along with the Chinese markets falling into bear market territory. A bear market is a condition in which prices of securities are falling, and widespread pessimism causes the negative sentiment to be self-sustaining.