The retail apocalypse: Here’s your lump of coal

By Ebenezer Scrooge
Special guest columnist

The writers at Carlisle/Wortman Associates are taking some time off for the holidays and those slackers have asked me to write a guest column about the retail apocalypse. Let’s start with a quote from Charlie O’Shea, a retail analyst for Moody’s.

“A pall has been cast on retail,” he said. “A day of reckoning is coming.”

Believe me, I know from days of reckoning but even my old pal Chuck Dickens would be hard-pressed to top this one. Forget the Pickwick Papers, this article from Bloomberg paints a grim picture of the future of retail in America.

Highlights

  • Retailers predict a net loss of 3,800 stores across the country by the end of the year
  • There’s a lot of high-yield debt out there — $1.9 billion maturing in 2019. By 2025 it will average $5 billion a year.
  • Even well-regarded chains carry billions in debt
  • Refinancing is going to get harder, especially as the Fed raises rates
  • Credit card losses are growing and shoppers may stop paying the debt on cards whose stores have closed
  • Retail employment, much of it low-wage, grew after the recession but will decline as stores close. Michigan will be one of the hardest-hit

What does this mean for planners? In a future post, my cheery little friend Tiny Tim will share some wisdom from CWA’s planners and communities across the country.

Happy holidays. God bless us, every one!

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