Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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Did Mall Traffic go to the Internet?

by Reb Akiva

When I posted my previous graphs showing mall traffic (actual people entering malls) had fallen over 50% since 2009, several people naturally responded “well, duh, everyone buys everything on the Internet now.”

It’s a good point.  Certain types of businesses have had their customer traffic destroyed by the Internet, such as book stores and music stores.  Others, grocery stores or cosmetics, not so much.  But HOW MUCH of our 50% missing mall traffic went to the Internet?  Because that will tell us the difference between a down U.S. economy and a sea change in the way people buy things…

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Internet sales are currently 6.4% of normal retail sales.  Mall traffic is down 50%.  50% – 6.4% = 44%.

The current retail economy in the U.S. is suffering a 44% downturn. 

You may argue that’s not exact, and indeed I’m comparing customer traffic to customer purchases.  Yet it seems sufficiently unlikely that less people are coming to the mall yet those who come are buying more, that I feel safe in making the generalization that a reducing in number of people is resulting in an equivalent reduction in amount of purchases.  (If anything the trend should be in the reverse, a small recovery might see an upswing in traffic but bringing only a small increase in purchases as people come to enjoy their slight increase in income without taking the risks of making bigger purchases until things get much better.)

Washington Examiner – “A (major) Wall Street financial advisor calculates the actual unemployment rate of those not working at a sky-high 37.2 percent, not the 6.7 percent advertised by the Fed, and the Misery Index at over 14, not the 8 claimed by the government.  He said that the government isn't being honest in how it calculates those out of the workforce or inflation, the two numbers used to get the Misery Index figure.

The unemployment rate only describes people who are currently working or looking for work. “Unemployment in its truest definition, meaning the portion of people who do not have any job, is 37.2 percent. This number obviously includes some people who are not or never plan to seek employment. But it does describe how many people are not able to, do not want to or cannot find a way to work.  (An example would be new college graduates that can’t find gainful employment.)

Then there is the Misery Index, which is a calculation based on inflation and unemployment, both numbers he says are underscored by the government. He said that the Index doesn’t properly calculate how Uncle Sam is propping up the economy with bond purchases and other actions.  “These tricks, along with a host of other dubious accounting schemes, underreport inflation by about 3 percent,” adding that the official inflation rate is just 1.24 percent.

“Today, the Misery Index would be 7.54 using official numbers.”  But if calculations tabulating the full national unemployment including discouraged workers, which is 10.2 percent, and the historical method of calculating inflation, which is now 4.5 percent, ‘the current misery index is closer to 14.7, worse even than during the Ford administration.”

If you are Jewish in the U.S. and portable, see yourself losing a job or house, it’s a good time to consider other ISRAEL options.

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