Skip to main content

Deep Trouble in Some Sectors

Food and Drinking places, clothing stores, and department stores are all in deep trouble.

Department stores were in a long decline anyway but clothing stores joined the party. 

Try At Home

With loose return policies people can now buy things try them on at home, then return them if they do not fit.

Covid did not cause this shift, but it did accelerate things.

What About Gasoline?

Gasoline is dependent on hugely fluctuating prices, demographics of boomers getting older and driving less, millennials apt to take an Uber or Lyft, affordability of cars, and work-at-home.

The work-at-home portion of the above mix is easily seen in the above chart but let's hone in on the details.

Advance Retail Sales Select Winners and Losers Detail

Advance Retail Sales Select Winners and Losers detail 2020-11
Scroll to Continue


The food and drinking recover was strong for two months then stalled. 

The recovery is misleading because it was led by fast-food places like McDonalds, Wendy's, Arbys, etc. 

The inside dining recovery was much weaker and states have begun new lockdowns and restrictions. 

The slump from October to November is ominous because it will get far worse for stores mostly or totally dependent on indoor dining. 

Nonstore Retail Sales as Percent of Advance Retail Sales

Nonstore Retail Sales as Percent of Advance Retail Sales 2020-11

Online Shopping

People don't buy gasoline, food, or motor vehicles online. Motor vehicles buying patterns are slowing changing but those changes are not reflected in nonstore sales. 

Retail Sales Year-Over-Year Details

  • Advance Retail Sales were 4.1 percent above November 2019.
  • Nonstore retailers were up 29.2 percent from November 2019.
  • Food services and drinking places were down 17.2 percent from last year.

For discussion and four additional charts, please see Shoppers Pull the Plug on Spending at the Start of the Holiday Season.