US retail sales announced last week read like a field guide to the apocalypse from upscale merchants like Nieman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. There was an almost straight line correlation between average price point and the decline in sales with only WalMart (the best value of all) showing a same store sales increase. Macy’s (our client) fell 6.6% which was like tripping on a step in comparison with their fancier competitors who were hurled of a cliff. In this case ‘not bad’ was indeed the new great.
An odder stat for the week was that new car sales in Canada were flat October over October while in the US, more predictably, they resembled the final frame of Thelma and Louise. Coincidentally October also saw gas prices 40% of their high earlier in the year.
Two stories emerge from this. Firstly Americans are in lock down and looking to avoid almost any commitment especially one that involves a continuing liability. Second, Canadians are incredibly fortunate that their banks did not engage in the serial misadventures of their counterparts to the south and as a result see business pretty much as usual. Up there at least it may not be great but it’s not bad.