Talk-radio host Michael Savage recently warned his listeners that President Obama could “crash” the economy “on his way out the door.”
But there are indications the disintegration already has begun.
For example, American retailing icon JCPenney has slashed its payroll, cut hours and frozen overtime.
“Those who typically work 25 hour a week got cut to 10 or 15 hours,” a report said. “The temporary cost-cutting also included the use of corporate credit cards, and markdowns were banned.”
Further, an employee told the New York Post that if you “walked into a JCPenney store during those two weeks, you would have seen clothes on the floor and fitting rooms in disarray” because there were too few workers to tidy up.”
There also was the bankruptcy of Aeropostale, a retailer targeting teens. It had lost money for more than three years before announcing it will close 113 stores in the United States, in addition to its 41 stories in Canada, as it seeks to “achieve long-term financial stability.”
The sporting goods giant Sports Authority is trying to sell off parts the company, and hundreds of stores are closing.
The company already has declared it will not emerge under a reorganization plan after filing for bankruptcy.
Worse yet, while department stores have been “stumbling for years,” even shopping malls now are “teetering on the brink.”
KWWL.com in Iowa reported that even though major department store chains have been “shrinking their footprints for a number of years now, the closures haven’t been enough to spark a turnaround, and according to estimates by Green Street Advisors, more drastic measures are needed.”
The report said the department store industry has been struggling for some time and is likely oversaturated in today’s retail environment, according to Green Street Advisors.
The company said a faster pace of department store closures could happen in the next few years. KWWL said Green Street found 800 locations need to go if department stores want to return to pre-recession health.
“Put another way, that’s all of the anchors at 200 malls, or 20 percent of mall anchor space in the country. And that’s bad news for malls, especially in smaller and less-affluent markets.”
As a result, malls are being torn down or repurposed, according to Vicki Howard of Hartwick College. She worried, according to the report, that the closing of anchor stores hurts smaller metro areas where shopping already is limited.
“The heyday of malls seems to be passing,” she said.
Then this week’s jobs numbers came up short.
An estimated 160,000 jobs were added in April, the fewest in seven months, and more than 94 million Americans are not in the labor force at all.
“When President Obama took office in January 2009, the labor force participation rate was 65.7 percent, after hovering in the 66-67 percent range for much of the George W. Bush presidency,” CNS News reported. “The recession inherited by the Obama administration officially ended in June 2009, but the labor force participation rate continued to drop during Obama’s two terms, hitting 62.4 percent in September 2015, its lowest point in 38 years.”
Right now, the rate is 62.8 percent, near its 38-year low, the report said.
The number of Americans not working in April was up 562,000 from March, the report said.
At the same time, Breitbart reported the number of foreign-born people working in the United States remained above the 25 million mark.
“The [Bureau of Labor Statistics] reports that 25,460,000 foreign-born people had a job in the U.S. during the month of April, a decrease of 281,000 compared to the month of March when a record 25,741,000 foreign-born people were employed in the U.S.,” the report said.
All of these indicators follow word just weeks ago that the numbers were moving further into negative territory under Obama.
Michael Snyder, a University of Florida law-school graduate, former Washington, D.C., attorney and publisher of the Economic Collapse Blog, wrote on The End of the American Dream blog: “Major retailers in the United States are shutting down hundreds of stores, and shoppers are reporting alarmingly bare shelves in many retail locations that are still open all over the country.”
He warned the 2015 retail lag was only worsening in 2016.
“In impoverished urban centers all over the nation, it is not uncommon to find entire malls that have now been completely abandoned,” he said. “It has been estimated that there is about a billion square feet of retail space sitting empty in this country, and this crisis is only going to get worse as the retail apocalypse accelerates.”
More recently, CNN reported Sears, which also owns the Kmart chain, said this week it was accelerating the closing of at least 50 locations that are unprofitable.
The closures had been planned over coming months, but the company, which said it expects fourth quarter revenue of $7.3 billion, down from $8.1 billion a year ago, said it was hurrying the closures because of losses.
That was just part of the “retail apocalypse” observed by analysts.
Walmart is set to shutter 269 stores, 154 of which are located in the United States; Macy’s is due to shut down 36 stores and lay off 2,500 employees; and the Gap is in midst of closing 175 of its locations in North America. Sears had set a goal of shutting down 600 overall.
“But these store closings are only part of the story,” Snyder wrote. “All over the country, shoppers are noticing bare shelves and alarmingly low inventory levels. This is happening even at the largest and most prominent retailers.”
WND reported one year ago that major U.S. retailers announced the closing of more than 6,000 stores from coast to coast. The list included only those retailers that planned to close more than 10 outlets in 2015 and 2016.
For example, 1,784 Radio Shack stores were vanishing, 400 stores in the Office Depot/Office Max chain by 2016 and 340 Dollar Tree/Family Dollar stores.
The growing list of stores getting shuttered coincided with the decline in discretionary consumer spending in the first half of 2015.
“Expect to see more storefronts closed at malls across the country,” one retail watcher told WND. “It’s getting ugly out there.”
Early in 2015, WND reported factors such as online shopping and maxed out credit were creating a shadow for America’s retail climate.
Retail industry expert Barbara Faran compiled a massive list of the activity.
“I can probably tick off three or four common-sense things we could have done where we’d be growing a percentage or two faster each year,” he said. “We could have brought down the unemployment rate lower, faster. We could have been lifting wages even faster than we did.”