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Are we headed toward a 'retail apocalypse?'

January sales lowest since June 2012

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Retail sales have folded like a cheap lawn chair, posting their worst performance since June 2012.

Retail sales – adjusted seasonally, which means it already accounts for the cold weather – dropped 0.4%, following a decrease of 0.1% in December.

Originally, the sales for December were quoted as up 0.2% but the number was revised down. Retail sales have now missed three months in a row.

Retailers are already on book as planning to close 300 stores nationwide. JC Penney, Sears, Macy’s, Target, Best Buy, Radio Shack, and Aeropostale – some are predicting a figurative decimation for household retailers, since it looks like a lot more than 1 in 10 retailers are facing extinction.  

Auto sales pulled down the total. Motor vehicle and parts declined 2.1%, following a decrease of 1.8% in December.

Excluding autos, sales were unchanged after gaining 0.3% the month before (originally up 0.7%).

Gas station sales increased 1.1% after jumping 1.5% in December. Excluding both autos and gasoline, sales slipped 0.2% after rising 0.1% in December. The consensus was for a 0.2% rise.

In the core, strength was seen in electronics and appliance stores; building materials and garden equipment; and grocery stores. Declines were seen in furniture and home furnishings; health and personal care; clothing; sporting goods, hobby, et al; department stores; nonstore retailers; and food services and drinking places.

The latest report suggests that fourth quarter GDP may be revised down and that first quarter GDP could be soft.

Equity futures declined on the news.

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