Supermarket Sales Jumped, Alcohol Sales Spiked 33% & Online Grocery Sales 100%, But “Non-Food” Sales Collapsed

How the Virus Crisis Flipped UK Retail Sales Upside Down.

By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET:

In the UK, where consumers are generally a sturdy lot when it comes to borrowing and spending, retail sales just had their worst month since records began in 1996, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS). Sales at “non-food stores” plunged 20.9%. This does not include auto sales or gasoline sales. And sales at clothing and shoes stores collapsed 35.7%. But online sales rose, sales at supermarkets jumped, and sales of alcohol (the drinkable kind) spiked.

Non-food stores are broadly considered non-essential and have therefore been closed since March 23, when the UK’s lockdown began. They’d already been through a sharp decline in the second half of 2019, as some large department store chains entered the UK equivalent of a bankruptcy restructuring. This was followed by an uptick early this year. The first half of March was likely in that range. But the lockdown did a job on them. In April, they’re faced with near-zero sales:

As has happened in many other countries, there was a boom in sales of food and household items at supermarkets, powered by some panic-buying, but also by the shift of consumption from restaurants, bars, cafeterias, work locations, hotels, and the like, to the home. This includes alcohol sales, which spiked 32.6% from February to March.

Sales at food stores, such as supermarkets, jumped by 10.2% from February to March, and by 11.3% year over year:

All combined, total retail sales, including online sales, food sales, non-food sales, and sales at gas stations, but not including auto sales, dropped 6% in March compared to the same month a year earlier, the worst decline in the history of the data.

The worst hit segment of the non-food retailers was clothing and footwear, whose sales plunged 35.7% year-over-year. Even by today’s standards, when more and more things seem to be going to heck in a straight line, it’s a staggering collapse, especially considering the UK’s coronavirus lockdown only began on March 23.

Sales of household goods plunged by 8.9% while fuel sales slumped 23.9% y-o-y as millions of Brits, confined to their homes and estranged from their workplaces, stopped driving. Besides supermarkets, one other outlier was department stores, which clocked up a 2% rise in sales, though according to the ONS a large chunk of these sales were online.

Which brings us to the one other main beneficiary (apart from supermarkets) of this unprecedented retail collapse:

Online sales, staking new ground

Online sales — including sales by the online divisions of brick-and-mortar retailers — increased in March by 5.8% year over year. But that still only brings the sector close to the peak it was at six or seven months ago. Nonetheless, online sales now account for almost 23% of retail sales in the UK.

Note, this retail sales data does not include new and used vehicle sales. In the US auto sales are included in the retail data and are the largest segment. And there are many other differences. So this percentage of online sales to retail sales is not comparable to the US ecommerce percentage of retail sales.

Two areas where online vendors have conquered new ground since this crisis began is in household goods, whose sales rose 14% compared to February, and food sales which surged 101%. In fact, demand for online food deliveries increased so much during the early stages of the lockdown that many people struggled to get a delivery slot, particularly in heavily populated areas such as the South East and the North West. In some places, people are having to wait well over a week to have their food delivered.

But many people would still prefer to wait that long than venture out to a physical store. The big fear for shop owners is that once many of these shoppers become accustomed to shopping online from the comfort and ease of their own home, they will continue to get deliveries of food and other items instead of visiting brick-and-mortar shops.

“Staying home has seen a surge in sales of food and drink; computing equipment, toys to keep children entertained, and unsurprisingly health-related goods too,” said Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG. “Yet our high streets are completely void of footfall, and non-food categories like fashion have been forced into hibernation.”

A foretaste of what lies in store

Given that the reporting period for March (March 1-April 4) included just two weeks of social-distancing measures, this unprecedented collapse in brick-and-mortar sales is likely to be nothing less than a foretaste of what lies in store in April, a month in which all but the most essential brick-and-mortar stores will be closed for the entire duration of the reporting period.

The industry was already reeling before the lockdown. Retailers had been hit by a combination of intensifying online competition, surging business rates, low profitability, high costs, escalating rents and maxed out consumers. A total of 117,000 retail jobs were lost and 14,500 stores were closed in 2019 alone as a result of brick-and-mortar retail companies hitting the wall or simply cutting costs in a desperate bid to stay afloat, according to a report published by the Centre for Retail Research.

Since the lockdown began, a spate of major brick-and-mortar players have entered administration (a form of bankruptcy), including Cath Kidston, Debenhams (for the second time in a year), and Oasis & Warehouse. According to Alvarez & Marsal, many other brick-and-mortar retailers were already experiencing negative cashflows that are now being amplified by the virus crisis. And so were many of the owners of the commercial real estate these retailers occupy, including mall giant Intu, which was already on the verge of collapse before the coronavirus crisis began. And this crisis will speed up that process. By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET.

Due to “the interconnectedness of the financial system” fund gatings can trigger “contagion risk” with “the potential to become a systemic issue,” warns Fitch. ReadMarket Mayhem Meets Liquidity Mismatch: “At Least” 76 Mutual Funds in Europe Were “Gated” in March

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  141 comments for “Supermarket Sales Jumped, Alcohol Sales Spiked 33% & Online Grocery Sales 100%, But “Non-Food” Sales Collapsed

  1. A says:

    RIP England.

    But as an American who’s bloodline is half Irish half Scottish, I am really excited to visit a rich, virbent, independent EU-member Socttland within my lifetime.

    • Tom Dusmet says:

      Good luck. What secret does Scotland have that will make it a success on its own?

        • DR DOOM says:

          “Frugal kilts” eh? . My male line got captured in a little Jacobite up-rising in Preston . They never saw the Findhorn again until I returned 300+ years later. We did a little gig in the New World called Transport and Servitude . The Scots love a good fraud. Golf may be their crown jewel of fraud. Appealing to the Englishmen’s sensibility as games men of the world enabled my kin to poach while the kings game keeper chased the ball with ol’ Angus in a pull it out of your arse on the quick explanation as “just playing through” . We have never been fully credited with our contribution of alcoholism by rum in the colonies.My wife finally realized our true capacity when she sampled Old Pultney distillate before it is in the cask in Wick Scotland. She does not like Scotch , I love it . I would not taste it and replied to her that it’s not scotch yet.. The quide got a smile when I said I will wait 12yrs when it comes out of the Cask. “Frugal Kilt ” may be , unless you want it .

      • WT Frogg says:

        Scotch whiskey and golf. 😉😉

        My great grandpa used to say : ” Only 2 good things ever come out of Scotland; Scotch whiskey and golf. Nothing good ever came out of Ireland. ”
        I knew he was only half kidding as our family has been on this side of the pond since 1641 after emigrating from Ireland. That was after emigrating from Berwickshire ( Tweed area) where they had been since the 900s AD.

        • 2banana says:

          Bagpipes?

        • Paulo says:

          I’ve always been partial to those fattening oat cakes, with a good cuppa.

          There was a reason why the HBC always hired Scots as their factors. Tight, doesn’t begin to describe it. They’d pinch a penny ’till the Queen screamed.

          But I have a serious question about Scots. Why is it, when they have been ‘over here’ in Canada for 40+ years, their accent gets heavier and less understandable by the month?

        • WES says:

          Paulo:

          My theory on the thickness of Scottish accents depends how close to Aberdeen they are from!

          The further away from Aberdeen, the more understandable they become!

          If they are from Aberdeen, they might as well be speaking Russian!

          Now just watch, somebody wearing a kilt, playing the bagpipes, while toting a golf club, will proceed to blow my theory all to hell!

        • WES says:

          O.K. so my poor little innocent comment ended up in Wolfe’s doghouse! Wonder why?

          I avoided using any names from this side of the pond! Check.

          Used only names from the other side of the pond! Check.

          Maybe if I change the order of all the key words used?

          Need to check! So here goes!

          A Russian living in Aberdeen, drinking Scotch, wearing a kilt, playing the bagpipes, while toting a golf club, singing in a thick Scottish accent, is having one hell of a good time!

          Am I out of the doghouse, Wolfe?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          WES,

          Just write normally, and if a word gets caught in the tripwires, I’ll get to it eventually and untangle it. Don’t try to speak in code to avoid the tripwires :-]

      • IdahoPotato says:

        Haggis.

    • Tim says:

      Where be Socttland now? What’s the benefit of it being virbent?

      :)

    • Frederick says:

      Independent EU member That’s an oxymoronic statement if I’ve ever heard one

    • Xabier says:

      Scotland was a semi-barbaric and impoverished region (too far north, primitive peoples) until the Union with England allowed it to participate in the global British Empire.

      Scots were hungry and greedy, and they did well out of empire and trade.

      That is long past, and the EU is now dying -even before it achieves empire – so good luck with those feeble nationalistic fantasies.

      Everywhere is going down. And down…….

      • char says:

        Colonist always claim that.

        The Highlands did so well. Such a vibrant and populated place nowadays.

      • Em says:

        And some of the greatest minds in medicine, engineering, physics sprag up from Scotland.

        Where would our understanding of what Faraday discovered without the brilliance of James Clark Maxwell who created the theory (read math equations) of emectromagnetics??

        The list of brilliant Scots is huge.and disptoportionate to.other ethnic cowds.

        • Tony says:

          The majority of American patent applications in the 1800s and 1900s had Scottish surnames
          i.e. Bell, Telephones,
          Carnegie, Steel,
          Edison, recording,
          Bell and Howell, movie projection,
          Davidson, motorcycles,
          Huges, Oil well drilling bits, aircraft,
          Owens, Glass,
          Etc.

          etc.

        • Dos Tacos Mas says:

          And let’s not forget John Law and the Banque Royale – where would we be without a Central Bank? /s

        • Javert Chip says:

          Em

          James Clerk Maxwell

      • Sydney Collin says:

        Trump’s mother emigrated from Scotland…

        • OutWest says:

          Trump is likely to be the first sitting president to declare personal bankruptcy while in office. Think he’s got enough cash to remain solvent for the next 7 months? Only time will tell!

      • Tim says:

        No, the Scotland produced several of the families that revolutionised european trade with far east.

        Much beyond the opium wars.

        There are still some interests out there that are not to be tussled with.

        To be, frankly l, still respected.

    • 2banana says:

      Scotland had the chance to vote for independence.

      It failed when the Scots figured out how much they would have to cut the dole without the subsidies from London.

      Braveheart, not so much.

      • Tim says:

        You never win by humiliation.

        Accuracy, maybe.

        Humiliation, no.

        Scotland is currently trying to feel it’s way through a Sir Walter Scott inspired sense of it’s own identity, a fog.

        The rest of the UK are spot wondering when they will wake up.

    • Petunia says:

      England has always been associated with quality, craftsmanship and reliability, “made in England” still sells well around the world. Even I, buy iconic British brands because they represent high quality and good value.

      • Anthony A. says:

        Their autos?…..not so much as far as reliability. Ever hear of Lucas electronics (also known as “the Prince of Darkness”)? LOL

        However, that was in an earlier time when we had MGs, Jensen Healeys, Triumphs, etc. Oh, forgot the Jags.

        • Petunia says:

          I believe everything you cite is a product of unionized or organized labor. The fact that you can ridicule them says it all. My personal observation over a lifetime, having grown up in a union family, has led me to the belief that unions kill innovation, craftsmanship, and eventually the industry.

        • California Bob says:

          I have two British cars: a 1956 Austin-Healey 100M and a 1967 Austin-Healey 3000. My last long road trip in the 3000 covered slightly over 5,000 miles with only one problem: an SU fuel pump quit in the desert and, since I carried two spares was swapped-out in 20 minutes (a friendly CHP officer stopped to chat with my navigator whilst I performed the swap). These cars–simple and rugged–are reasonably reliable if properly maintained, and most issues–like the often problematic electric fuel pumps–can be addressed on the side of the road or in a gas station. The wire wheels, which are aesthetically pleasing, can be a PITA. I’ve only been stranded once, when a rebuilt water pump blew its seal, which was not the car’s fault.

          As for Lucas, some, but not all, of the horror stories have at least a bit of truth (and have spawned numerous jokes*). The wiring itself I always felt was over-engineered, with 12ga copper and thicker-than-typical insulation. The problem with shorts and intermittency, I decided was due to the ‘barrel’ style connectors, which my dad’s 1929&1931 Model As also used! Filling the connectors with dielectric grease addressed the problem with intermittency due to corrosion of the metal parts. At one time Lucas was making some of the electronic components for our cruise missiles, which have performed reasonably well when called upon.

          *Q: Why do the British drink warm beer?
          A: Lucas refrigerators.

        • Cambric Finish says:

          From the beginning of the Industrial Age, all to frequently there is a win/lose relationship between labor and management. Unions evolved to provide some leverage to power inequality and managerial abuses of labor. If some Unions put a damper on innovation it might be because management had such low regard for its workers and treated them accordingly. Japan took ideas from the US and empowered workers to be creative. I don’t see where Unions could not provide both leverage and empower worker innovative, also. Management plays a large factor in this. My sense is management just doesn’t want to or feel like they need to share the wealth so the battle continues. Demonizing Unions with a broad brush is part of management’s playbook for keeping a large power imbalance.

      • Jdog says:

        Yes Lucas is known world wide. Mechanics have a joke..Why do the Brits drink warm beer? They have Lucas refrigerators.
        I used to ride motorcycles with a guy who was from England and rode Triumphs and BSA’s we would usually have to stop at least once a day for him to work on his bikes. They would literally fall apart driving down the road. We would have keep an eye out for the parts as they bounced down the pavement….
        It was highly entertaining….

      • Javert Chip says:

        but not cars

      • NJGeezer says:

        Sorry Petunia,
        Love reading your commentary always, but gotta differ on mechanized transport. English motorbikes and cars have been notorious for decades (’60s-80s) as oil-weeping, short-circuiting junk piles. Have to hand it to Anthony A., he nailed it. Also, you cannot blame faulty engineering design on union labor. Personally no fan of labor unions, but the British engineers just didn’t have it.

        • MC01 says:

          Before absolving British unions from any faults in the matter I suggest reading “Whatever Happened to the British Motorcycle Industry?” by Bert Hopwood. Nobody, not even Hopwood himself, comes out looking good from that fiasco.

          Basically the whole industry was one giant disaster waiting to happen, from the infamous Sir Bernard Docker to the last guy on the assembly line straightening exhaust systems with a crowbar.

    • Javert Chip says:

      Given Scotland lives on UK subsidies, Scots may want to consider the credit & trustworthiness of their supposed new benefactor. Do you really believe the EU wants more tiny & poor new members?

      Scotland is currently 8.4% of the UK, Scotland’s 5M population is about 1.1% of (non-UK) EU total (roughly half the size of Greece).

      Also loved the irony of “…independent EU-member Socttland[sic]…”. Just for grins, someone might want to ask Greece or Italy how wonderful it feels to be an “…independent EU-member…”.

  2. Balzac says:

    There’ll always be an England (as long as Scotland’s there).

  3. Covey says:

    I am not sure why anyone should be surprised at the ONS findings. Clothing and footwear sales dropped by 37%!! Probably because all the shops selling clothing and footwear were closed.

    I am in the Spanish lockdown near Malaga. I have not bought any diesel for my car in the last 8 weeks. I have bought no clothing or footwear in the last 6 weeks of lockdown. I have not been to a hardware shop because they are all closed.

    The difference is that all non-food shops are closed, therefore the cut-off is across all brands and regions

  4. Zantetsu says:

    Why don’t you start your y axis at 0? Your graphs are so deceptive. Why even bother with a graph if the shape doesn’t mean anything?

    • MC01 says:

      Indexes of all kinds rarely if ever start at 0. Take the now infamous Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI): it starts at 50. Anything above is expansion and anything beneath contraction. The Case-Shiller Index? Same thing.

      These retail sales indexes used by the ONS (Office of National Statistics) start at 100, the volume of sales at the end of 2016. 95 means retail sales are 5% below the end of 2016, 105 5% above and so on.
      Why did the ONS pick this particular value and time? They don’t explain it, that’s just the way the index is composed.

      • Cobalt Programmer says:

        Also, in olden days, around 0, values might go negative which confounds the calculation later. Like, +5 last year, -5 this year, -10 next year. so, its like the difference between saying 5am to 5pm or 0500 to 1700. If you subtract the latter, you get 12 hours but am-pm is very difficult. After 90s, everything is very simple with modern computers but back in the days addition of one step will jam the system.

    • 2banana says:

      This is not deceptive and is a typically way to display info – especially when data is clustered away from a “zero” point.

      It would be hard to see what is happening/trending without it.

      What you really need to watch out for is when the y-axis is on a log scale. Now, that can be very deceptive.

    • andy says:

      Well, let’s see that shape. A vertical line from 107 down to 87. I may need a calculator here..

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Zantetsu,

      2014 is how far the monthly index data goes back at the ONS. The index was set to be 100 for 2016. Since the existence of the UK, sales were NEVER at zero. If you look at a six-year real GDP chart that starts at zero (which is stupid because GDP was NEVER zero), you’ll get essentially a straight line at the top. Activate your brain before commenting.

      Here is what that chart looks like when it starts at zero – and after you activate your brain, you can see that you cannot see the details of what happened until March 2020:

    • Javert Chip says:

      Zantetsu

      Some people are congenitally no bueno with numbers & analytics. I bet you’ve been told this before.

      You get approximately zero appreciation for accusing others of deception simply because you struggle understanding simple graphs.
      I bet you’ve been told this before, too.

  5. Xabier says:

    Thanks for an excellent article, I hope you are keeping your spirits up!

    I’ve been ordering lots of goods here in England, both food and other long-term storeable things.

    It took me over a month to get a delivery slot from a supermarket, one I’d been using for 7 years, and also to supply an elderly relation in London.

    That situation seems to be easing somewhat, but my relative was only kept fed by an old friend sacrificing a lot of time shopping and driving to supply them – I am stuck 70 miles away.

    But what is now noticeable is that whereas other things went like clockwork, deliveries and order fulfilment are suddenly, over the last week or two, becoming very patchy and irregular – one senses the system is breaking down.

    No doubt staff off sick, collapse of logistics, etc.

    Also, manufactured and imported household goods are really running down – so many ‘out of stock’ notices, or ‘3 online’ for the whole country, etc, and for the most basic items.

    Lock-downs have to end asap, everywhere – bite the bullet and take the losses.

    The functioning of the whole is of greater importance than the loss of a modest % of the population (and I say that being myself in a’high risk’ group and having self-isolated way before this all kicked off.)

    Situations like these also teach one the great wisdom of the ‘3 is 2 is 1’ mantra. Soon many things will not be available even if you have the money.

    • Joe says:

      I was looking into the ordering of groceries at the grocery stores and they have a 3 week booking if I so wanted to put in an order.

    • MC01 says:

      Governments in France, Italy, Spain etc have all the interest in the world to keep us locked up for as long as possible if not forever, not because they care about us, but because they are terrified, literally terrified, of us.
      Just look at the carnage their lockdowns have wrought, and the only results are the piles of dead bodies here in the North and an explosive social situation in the South. This time fast-talking won’t suffice: heads will have to roll and in quantity.
      That’s why the emphasis has now shifted from “the virus will get you” to “the police will get you”: anything to keep people locked up for as long as possible.

      But not even China, not exactly a free country, has come up with such an asinine strategy. In fact the government there is actively pushing people to go out and spend their money, buy a new car, go to Quingdao for the weekend… they want people to forget the crisis as quickly as possible (no need to tell why) and the only way to do so is letting them out of the house, buy stuff and live their lives.
      But our genius governments have run into a little snag: they are effectively broke and Angela Merkel is not exactly supportive of the idea of handing them heaps of money with nothing in return. If France, Spain and especially Italy want the €1 trillion “Recovery Fund”, they have to show they are recovering. This means people working in factories, buying stuff in the shops and going for a run in the park. The German government has been working hard to manage (successfuly I may add) the disease and come up with a surprisingly quick recovery plan, so why should the Italian government get money for completely mismanaging a crisis first and then trying to save its worthless hide by refusing to end the lockdown?
      Germany is ready to share her expertise in managing the disease and has fast-tracked vaccine development: I’d say it’s worth listening to what they have to say. And if this means a few politicians and bureaucrats end up in jail for a long time, that’s all gravy. ;-)

      • char says:

        China does that after the disease has passed. You have to do things in order. And vaccines are at least 6 months away if not more. And the more people get the disease the more it split up in different viruses the harder and longer it takes to make a vaccine.

        A lockdown sucks but it is the fastest, cheapest and fairest way to combat the disease.

        • Gordian knot says:

          To my knowledge there has never been a vaccine successfully created for a Corona virus. 18 month Target is the equivalent of Elon musk saying he will be profitable in the same time frame. It’s to placate interested parties. Hydroxychloriquin works and it’s cheap and available. There is a smear campaign on this treatment probably because big pharma was promised big bucks. Something is really off with our leaders when it’s obvious that we need to put everyone back to work immediately and if someone gets symptoms you put them on the HDROX/AZITH regiment.

        • Ian says:

          Really. Sweden death rate per capita is 0.02%. The UK is 0.027%, a third higher. Sweden reports all deaths while UK does not include care homes so is actually much higher. Sweden kept economy open, UK is closed. So tell me, how is lockdown the only solution?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Ian:

          Corona death per 1 million population:
          Sweden: 217
          UK: 299
          US: 164

          In the US, there have been 54,300 coronavirus deaths since we started counting. If the US had the same per-capita death rate as Sweden, there would now be 72,000 deaths.

          In addition, Sweden is doing a lot of social distancing, working at home, not going anywhere, etc. but it’s voluntary. Nevertheless, its economy is a deep recession as well. So those extra deaths have not bought a healthy economy.

        • MC01 says:

          Ian, look at Germany.
          It’s probably the country which so far has better managed the epidemic while causing the least damages. Sure, they have a lockdown but it’s ending soon (May 4) and it has been nowhere near as oppressive as those in Southern Europe.
          For example if you are a member of a motorglider club you can go and fly one (what safer way to spend a sunny afternoon than alone at 10,000ft?) and families with small children are not merely allowed but encouraged to go out for a walk in the woods. Just use some common sense.

          My German colleagues have been “disturbed” by the lockdowns here in Italy, especially by the pictures of soldiers in the streets and police helicopters flying at rooftop level. One even wrote me “Why do you allow them to treat you like criminals?”. Really good question.
          But their government hasn’t got the blood of thousands of innocents on its hands and hasn’t created a social time bomb in the South I can hear ticking from here. It acted like a government it’s supposed to act: maybe the Swedish approach is better suited for some folks (like my brother, but he already works for them) but at least the German government has been trying hard to reduce collateral damages.
          All we have is an increasingly desperate attempt to avoid retribution.

      • OutWest says:

        The inherent power many politicians weld by keeping people locked up at home is endless and they know it. I’m surrounded by people who should be working (practicing social distancing) but instead they are at home, watching their lives fall apart while our hospitals sit under utilized, with furloughed staff.

        The only reason some construction workers in my state are being allowed to return to work this week is due to their industry associations and lobbyists who can front run the politicians. No worries, the wealthy will always be fine…and of course, the politicians and the wealthy have test kits. Pleanty of test kits in fact.

        I’m not sure how compliant Europeans are but in the US, poles show that 75-80% of Americans support the shut down which makes sense considering the average American watches 4+ hours of TV daily, doesn’t exercise, consumes mostly processed food (toxic chemicals), not to my mention the fact that most people still believe in a ‘higher power’. People allow themselves to be exploited far to consistently.

        • Beardawg says:

          OutWest

          Same question I had for MC01. Maybe I am dense (not the first time I would have discovered that) – but please explain why lockdown gives “endless inherent power” to politicians? Lack of productivity = lack of taxation. I do understand endless QE/Stimulus to pay obese TV watching Americans will debase US currency – but this is not endless. There is a tipping point where Netflix @ $1000/Mo and a Value Meal @ $180 when receiving $2000/Mo in gubment cheese no longer computes – even to the most dense among us ??

        • tom says:

          I’m blessed to work & live in an area that does not support the shutdown. We are rural and most make a living working outdoors. Do not watch TV that often. Saturday thought I would turn the tube on during lunch to see how draft was going.
          After 20 minutes I turned it off. It was like a sci fi movie.
          Constant barrage of commercials telling us to be good doggies and stay in our kennels. The brainwashing is incredible. Now I understand the 75-80% who believe they can hole up until their trusted govt. experts allow them to see daylight again.

        • MC01 says:

          OutWest: just wait a few weeks and watch how those “compliant” people turn around. It’s what happened in Italy and the reason we have heavily armed soldiers in the streets and police helicopters flying at rooftop level: you need to keep them scared, and if they don’t fear the virus they have to fear the government.
          The government did not want want to end the lockdown but was forced to admit defeat by imminent bankruptcy and an explosive social situation in the South, albeit with the worst possible grace. Some ministers are already trying to distance themselves from the Dear Leader (“we are working hard to reopen our museums in May already”, “minimal disruptions on the beaches”, “all restrictions lifted by July” etc) but I wouldn’t trust a single thing these folks say. They are just fast-talking to deflect blame.

          Speaking of folks you shouldn’t trust, don’t believe what the media say. Don’t believe anything. They stand in line behind the Chinese government and the OMS/WHO as responsible in this fiasco: it’s beyond doubt without the lurid threats by the media we would have been able to manage this crisis far better. Just look at Germany where the government disregarded the “millions of deaths” promised by the press and resisted pressures to “swamp” their healthcare system with Covid-19 patients.
          Thanks to the hard lockdown the media pushed here we are now dealing with record anti-depressant consumption and way way too many suicides, especially among the elderly. These news deserve at most a few lines at page 18.
          Would you trust any number published by these folks? I’d rather trust President Xi.

      • Beardawg says:

        MC01

        Not understanding why our governments want to keep us locked down because they are terrified of us? If lockdown is furthering economic collapse, what is the lockdown motivation? If China (rightly or wrongly) is recovering economically by jump-staring the economy by physically releasing people back into the economy (as opposed to QE/Stimulus) – why should that be terrifying? Are you implicating the recurrence of COVID will overrun the hospitals? If so, I did not pick that up in your post.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          BD, THE issue, FKA problem, is nobody knows, yet, what exactly or even approximately is going to happen with early release of We the Peeons, (thanks Una, for that additional e) anywhere, especially in USA where we have a relatively long history of delivering medical services to keep marginal people alive, including me.
          And, as such, in spite of MC01, or maybe because of his clarity re politicians in Italy, etc.,,, IMHO, politicians in USA are ever more afraid of the PR resulting from untimely releases, which results they cannot know and thus ”spin” beforehand.
          “And to be sure,” no matter what else may or may not happen, the first goal of every modern politician everywhere is to be reelected, if for no other reason than to keep their hand in the ”honey pot” and keep putting as much loot in their pocket as possible.

        • MC01 says:

          Beardawg: this is an Italian issue. I am sorry for not having been clearer but I am operating on short sleep rations lately. I don’t want to depress anybody even further.

          The present predictions from our new experts about Covid-19 don’t call for a big resurgence down the road but for a long tail of isolated cases and localized clusters: that’s why our local healthcare authorities (with a big helping hand from our prefect, one of the very few figures of authorities here who really did a cracking job in impossible circumstances) are building a huge (up to 400 beds) “post-emergency” Covid-19 ward which will house all the new cases requiring hospitalization from our province and some neighboring areas. Mixing patients in hospitals early on was an absolute catastrophe, and most likely the reason why New York City is now a war zoner.
          New cases here are overwhelmingly mild in nature and don’t require hospitalization: why this is happening we don’t know yet but it conforms to what Germany and Korea have already seen. Tip #2: don’t trust a thing China and the OMS/WHO say about this epidemic. It landed us in enormous troubles.

          Economies cannot be “jump started” after this thing. They are like a cruise ship on cold layup: they need to be brought up to speed at a steady pace and with a steady hand and while keeping all subsystems under control otherwise you get burst water pipes, electrical fires, the crew ransacking liquor stocks… complete mayhem.
          But this process has to start sooner than later, and that was another serious mistake of the Italian government: after it became apparent the South was barely affected, people there should have been allowed back to work, to have a walk, to buy new shoes etc.
          In short the world had better to learn from our mistakes if they want to avoid ending up like us.

      • California Bob says:

        Here in California’s Central Valley, it’s pretty much ‘business as usual.’ When the governor first declared ‘shelter-in-place’ bars and restaurants closed–the fast-food joints are only doing takeout–and traffic died down for a week or so but now appears to be back to pre-virus levels. We went to Costco the other day, and maybe 10% of shoppers were wearing masks, 5% were wearing gloves and only a scattered few were wearing both (we were). This area has a strong conservative streak, and many of my acquaintances completely poo-poo’d the whole idea of taking any precautions. Last stat I saw–at least a week ago–claimed several hundred confirmed cases and a handful of deaths in the county. This area could serve as a preview of what happens as we ‘gradually get back to business as usual.’

        • Paulo says:

          Message to Petunia. I have worked 1/2 my career(s) union and 1/2 non-union. The only difference was pay and working conditions. Non-union companies were often full of brown nosers always trying to be noticed by the boss. Owner family members were absolute nightmares to work with, often useless and dead weight. On the other hand, a non-union company I worked for was excellent and my favourite by far. It just varies.

          But when it’s time for layoff and re-assignment, there is nothing better than a set of negotiated rules to ensure the process is fair and not dependent on sucking up. If a union employee does not adequately do his/her job, then there is a process for evaluation, improvement, or termination. It is called managing and it is the responsibility of managers to also do their jobs. And yes, I have had to hire and fire. You want to see how non-union works, look no farther than the WH, where personal loyalty is more important than job performance.

      • Doug says:

        Do they have unions in Germany

        • Tanstaafl says:

          Yes, a lot. Some of them are among the biggest in the world (regarding number of memberships). The IG Metall (Industrie Gewerkschaft Metall) is probably the richest one in the world.
          They work like a two-headed entity: one take care about the workers (pay, work hour, safety regulations), the other one is a kind of codominium with the owners. They occupy up to 50% of the board due to the laws (coal and furnace industry), but in most areas just one third. Their delegates on the board feel obliged to look after the well-beeing of the whole company, not just the labor force.
          So – if you buy a Mercedes (where I work – re-starting with roughly 30% next Monday) or a Porsche, you buy something that’s assembled by a vast majority of union members (altough declining).
          It’s not mandatory to join, but if you do, you get free legal protection and some other stuff like a boring magazine. And they pay you when you join the strike they declare (usually every other year for a day or two). Other than that there is no privilege regarding promotion, job security etc.

    • Tim says:

      Elderly relative.

      Asparagus from Kent and Hampshire available now

      Spring lamb in a couple of weeks.

      Gulls eggs some time soon, too.

      … Samphire from the West country… Lush, as they say down there.

      :)

  6. Joe says:

    Do you remember when you would order stuff from a store like Home Depot and it would all be loaded on one truck and delivered?
    Well, they dropped off the wood but all other materials came by freight in 4 different shipments. 8 foot long tubes for 2 pieces of plastic…lots of packing materials in the other boxes.
    Not impressed.

    • 2banana says:

      Are you saying the new high tech online economy is not green?

      I was watching the 1967 movie “Bonnie and Clyde” last night.

      They called in a grocery order and it was delivered. Just like instacart! Well, except, they got everything they ordered.

    • andy says:

      Jerry: They deliver wood?
      Elaine: Yeah.
      Jerry: What da ya tip a “wood guy”?

  7. Petunia says:

    I browse the high end designer websites in Europe. A good sale in the past was 10-15% off. Now the discounts are 30-40% off. A few items I was interested in are no longer available, so some people are still buying.

  8. Joe says:

    Canada will stay locked down for some time to come as we try to retool our factories for personal protective equipment. The reliant on other countries for supplies didn’t work out so well. Our orders have been blocked, redirected or outbid by others in this wild west current setting.
    In Quebec alone 5500 healthcare workers are refusing to work without proper protection as another 4500 are sick.
    Talk about being caught off guard.
    Our government was all in globalization…
    Now our supplies are back ordered.

    • Petunia says:

      You just reminded me, we haven’t heard a peep out of the “earth is flat” idiot. He must be hiding out writing the sequel, “the earth was flat but T***p bent it.”

      • Joe says:

        I know it’s round…
        I velocities mapped our orb decades ago.
        It clashed with political ideologies. Never to be published to public viewing.

      • WES says:

        Petuna:

        He told Canadians to stay home and not to go to the cottage.

        Then he went to his cottage.

  9. andy says:

    What about Amazon?
    Are they hiring hundreds of thousands in Europe too?

    • Icanwalk says:

      That is one amazing feat, isn’t it? How do you find, interview, vet and hire that many people so quickly? And then train?

      Strains my credulity.

      • Jeremy W says:

        I was one of those hired.
        1. Online application is very short. Just ask if college degree and age.
        2. Paperwork orientation- at a hotel. Groups of 25 people at a time for two hours. Four groups per day
        3. Background check- takes 5 days
        4. 3 days of training/orientation- 1 employee with 2 trainees
        5. Set your own schedule with app. No manager over you.

        I’ve since worked for three weeks.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Thanks for the ”boots on the ground” reporting JW,,, Please continue to keep us informed of the realities of your situation going forward.
          I have also wondered about the amazing place as well as the walls smart allegedly hiring SO many SO fast.
          As a long time fan of wm and amaze being able to deliver at good prices, although, to be sure, I have seen many local outlets beating them both, + supplying tons of service before, during, and after the sale, I, for one, would like to have more real data.

      • California Bob says:

        Amazon is doing ‘bulk hiring:’ Hire anybody with a pulse and if they work out, fine, if not, they’re shown the door. It’s as good a way as any; in the tech business I participated in dozens of ‘technical interviews;’ up to 8 hours of non-stop questioning by not only technical people, but HR, finance, etc. Often, when being interviewed by ‘technical’ people I was asked a lot of arcane, theoretical questions with not practical import or relevance to the job; it felt as if the interviewer was more interested in showing-off how smart s/he is, not if I was a good fit for the position.

        • California Bob says:

          Adding that no matter how rigorous the interview/selection process, some ‘clunkers’ always get hired.

  10. DR DOOM says:

    This is how it’s done in my neck of the woods. House of Raeford Farms is selling skinless chicken breast, thighs for $40 to $45 for a 40lb box . They are selling these items off the back of the truck at schools or other allowable public places. They list thier sales location on their website. They only take CASH CASH CASH. Waving your iPhone or plastic around will not get you chicken shit. Silver stuck coins are next on the list if cash dries up. There is not a lot of cash floating around in the real economy of the U.K. or the US. The masses of both countries think that all this CB stimulus means a lot of cash floating around in their economy, they are ill informed. If you own a Rembrandt or a chalet in Devos or other assets you are being Eased and Stimulated and will experience wonderful inflation when you liquidate. Get this in your thick bone headed knobs people that when you hear the word QE or Stimulus you are being de-based of the currency you live on. Central Government can take all your wealth and income by currency de-basement. It does not need to tax you to get it. it does not need to send the Federal Police to take your livestock , no you will do the collecting for them. This is the potential tyranny that all fiat currency poses to you.The Government CB simply raises it debt limit and the next Government CB does the same .Your situation will not be Stimulated or Eased by this. You will wake up poor and frightened. Local governments ,state or regional governments cannot de-base currency since they cannot create it. They will be forced to confiscate from you in person and forcefully to pay them and their friends and families. This would be a messy process and will not end well. That iPhone you are waving around pisses only the Kings Iron Coinage. The true Sovereign is the silver in your pocket that will bring a smile on market day.

    • Joe Lalonde says:

      With this lockdown…
      It will be too late.
      I have been buying quality for a while now as this monetary debasement going on for decades now has allowed me to get a few good deals which in Canadian prices, keeps going up.
      I already see food prices have risen by 25% in my area.

      • WES says:

        Joe:

        In Toronto area, food prices are definitely up plus number of weekly sales items are down.

    • OutWest says:

      “Get this in your thick bone headed knobs people that when you hear the word QE or Stimulus you are being de-based of the currency you live on.”

      Quote of the day!

      Thankfully, their TV still works.

    • Joe says:

      One of the more amazing things I’ve been seeing is all these watches of decades ago that we’ve paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for selling for 2 or 3 bucks…lots of gold plating and quality tossed aside…
      Thank you very much.

    • Implicit says:

      The debasement is a logical outcome, but they obviously can keep it going for a while. And they will.
      The dollar is trying to rise presently. They don’t like that either. Their up on the tight rope wire “one sides ice, and the other fire”Leon Russel.
      Just a matter of time, but time and relativity are funny things- hard to predict.

  11. Here in the states, stores can run out of toilet paper, but run out of beer and it’s game over..

    • Bobber says:

      I’m surprised about the increase in alcohol sales. I knew people would be drinking a little more at home, but I expected little increase under the presumption that people don’t like to drink alone, especially with no sports to watch on TV.

      I thought people preferred to drink in social groups, and the loss of bar and restaurant activity would crater alcohol revenues. Looks like I was wrong, at least in UK. I guess people like drinking alone at home.

      • fajensen says:

        Based on the few alcholics in my family: The majority of the people who are heavy drinkers, they hate other people too.

        While they are able to do it, they will do ‘social drinking’ because it is the socially acceptable way to get totally smashed and to be argumentative arseholes over socially acceptable drinking-discusssion-topics like politics or sports. Thus everyone can pretend that the alcohlics are ‘just having a party’ or ‘going out’ but the alcoholics are really there for the alcohol, and not the for company!

        Once in isolation, or when they run out of money, friends or all of the above, they can concentrate on the essentials: Drinking and being a Swine!

    • California Bob says:

      Corona (Mondelo) closed their plant in Mexico; fortunately, Costco had a good supply so we picked up a (just in) case.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        California Bob,

        California brews are great. No need to buy imported Big Beer. Corona and Modelo are brands of global brewing conglomerate AB InBev (AB stands for Anheuser-Busch). It owns dozens of beer brands around the globe, including Budweiser. Taste and ingredients are appropriately decided by corporate cost-cutters and marketeers.

        There are some great beers brewed in the Central Valley. Experiment. Try some well-balanced IPAs. Buy local. There is some specialized hop grown in the Central Valley too. You can probably even visit the brewery. My local Costco carries a bunch of California beers, including one of my favorites.

        • Joe says:

          Wolf,
          Back in the early 80’s German beer was fantastic.
          Homebrewed Pub on each corner.
          Made it difficult to get past a few blocks without getting hammered. But that was good unfooled around beer at that time.

        • Dan Romig says:

          In the Twin Cities, we just order our beers from local craft breweries and have them delivered, often by bike, straight to our homes.

          https://www.startribune.com/beer-delivery-twin-cities-breweries-bring-growlers-crowlers-and-six-packs-to-you/569722172/

          Petunia:
          As mentioned once before, I chose a Rega turntable, arm and moving coil cartridge to upgrade my phono stage in January. Rega is made in England, and designed by Roy Gandy. My phono stage needed to be MC capable, so I went from a Graham Slee MM preamp to, of course, a Graham Slee MC preamp; made in England, and designed by, well I bet you can guess who designs them.

          Four months later and I couldn’t be happier!

          P.S. The plant breeder who replaced Dad when we sold our company to LimaGrain from France ten years ago, Dr. Blake Cooper, was the head barley breeder for Anheuser-Bush for quite a while before jumping ship. He and a couple other talented veterans left A-B as a direct result of A-B being taken over by Stella-Artois. “They brought the bean-counters and accountants in to take over from the brewmasters!” is a direct quote from Dr. Cooper.

        • California Bob says:

          I don’t care for most IPAs–too bitter and filling for my tastes (but I like Guinness–go figure)–but I’ll try a local pilsner or lager if I can find one. Taco Truck Lager, from nearby Dust Bowl Brewery in Turlock is my ‘go to’ in establishments that carry it. Dunno why I got stuck on Corona; in my youth I thought it tasted ‘soapy,’ but with lime it’s better, and maybe they changed the recipe. It’s an unobtrusive daily.

  12. Iapetus says:

    “Sales at food stores, such as supermarkets, jumped by 10.2% from February to March, and by 11.3% year over year:”

    The 2020 market size of UK supermarkets is $182.1 billion, and the 2020 market size of UK full-service restaurants is $21.6 billion, which implies that supermarket sales could grow by 11.86% if everyone stopped patronizing full-service restaurants and simply bought groceries instead.

    https://www.ibisworld.com/united-kingdom/market-size/supermarkets/
    https://www.ibisworld.com/united-kingdom/market-size/full-service-restaurants/

    So these numbers are pretty close when assuming that restaurant revenues are simply being transferred to supermarket revenues. There probably isn’t an exact transfer of alcohol sales from restaurant to supermarket, but it’s still an interesting approximation.

    • Jdog says:

      People will not stop going to restaurants. The “human law” dictates that people can never afford what they need, but the can always afford what they want……

      • Frederick says:

        I rarely go out to eat The food is usually way too salty for my hypertension to take and god knows what goes on in those kitchens Plus the fact that I love to cook using lots of ingredients from my garden

        • Implicit says:

          It is astonishing the amount of salt in food. It is poured in for taste and shell life.
          Stay healthy!

        • Iamafan says:

          I agree. Restaurants are a salt mine and a sugar hacienda. I can stay a lot healthier going to my fish monger or even the Costco meat department. I have been cooking mostly everything I can get by sous vide and freezing what we can’t eat. Has worked wonders. I don’t believe I’ll miss the restaurant menu.

  13. lenert says:

    Awww – really wanted to see the chart on liquor sales.

    • WES says:

      Lenert:

      Nick wisely left the liquor chart out!

      He didn’t want to unduly upset Wolfe by pointing out another straight line!

  14. Jdog says:

    Liquor is always a great investment. People drink to celebrate in good times and drink even more to drown their sorrow in bad times…..

    • Bobber says:

      Sitting at home in your chair, watching a Netflix movie while soaking your liver, maybe bitching a little about politics. Is this the new nirvana?

      • p coyle says:

        a warm day, working in the garden, with a glass of homemade bergamotcello, with a big ol’ ice cube and a splash of water.

        much better than netflix.

    • California Bob says:

      People like to drink. It’s that simple.

  15. Tim says:

    There is a little misinformed posturing in some of the posts above.

    Irish Gaelic is a stew of many different backgrounds.

    There is no such thing as ‘ethnic Irish’ as there is no such thing as ‘ethnic Scottish’.

    Both are myths based upon inherent prejudices.

    Sorry, fact.

    The only true cultural grouping in the uk- as in language and location- is the Welsh.

    So go whistle.

    (Not welsh, but , dammit, guys get your facts right)

    • Tim says:

      I’m not Welsh is what I mean.

      And if those who would bristle at the above would say ‘it is not so’

      What are you afraid of that you need such defiance………?

    • WES says:

      Tim:

      In that case I have all of my bases covered!

      My kids are Scottish, Irish, Welsh, English, and German!

      It is the Germam-Welsh part that I could never understand!

  16. Tim says:

    But on more serious point

    (Beyond the yaa sucks boo which is the basis of humour in our sceptred isles)

    All of those blips in food retail will not last. October is going to be an awkward month. It’s the month when families start to seriously think about Christmas.

    If household incomes continue to wither over July/August/September, because jobs are not going to rapidly recoil, then the retail depency on Christmas is going to be……. hobbled.

    We are in the now, seriously start looking at the the sequelae.

  17. Seen it all before, Bob says:

    We are bucking the trend.

    My wife had a chance to look around the house during this downtime and decided it was time buy new furniture.

    I have been assembling flatbox beds and furniture constantly from Wayfair, Costco, IKEA, …. since this epidemic forced us to evaluate our house.
    To be fair, most of the old furniture was 20-30 years old.

    Polling the audience for the next purchase. Should a guest bedroom have 2 twin beds or a single queen bed? That is our next purchase to save the world.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “Should a guest bedroom have 2 twin beds or a single queen bed?”

      Two queen beds!

    • kitten lopez says:

      screw the beds:

      pad the floor cover it with blankets, scatter pillows all around and do things to your wife you’ve never even thought of.
      when she says stop don’t listen because she won’t fall OFF anything and hurt her head.

      don’t waste the downtime.
      blow her mind.
      thank me later.

      (wink)
      x

  18. kitten lopez says:

    Wolf, please give me leeway if i’m out of your laws in commenting. it’s Corona Time and i’m in PAIN and nowhere to discuss such things:

    TO KAREN IF YOU’RE HERE (bear with my rambling preamble i’ve been sobbing since last night and i’m in pain and struggling so elevator pitches were never my forte but if they were, they’d be the first to go right now):

    rough 24 hours over here. nearly divorced James and we’re not married or even fucking. i wrote sobbing concession letter to Unaumused recanting my optimism after a fight with James about cynicism making me feel like the Black Knight flailing around in fight with just a torso, and then woke up to young couple below screaming bloody murder over the dishes and apparently the other tech couple below us already split, she back in Australia and he in his pj bottoms outside all afternoon. / it’s getting rough and i thought this would be a cake walk for me.

    but i’m losing faith in humanity’s ability to walk upright EVER again as i watch our necks slink forward back towards the ground where they can’t wait to get on their back, display their tummies and pledge their obeisance to authority–the government or the corporation.

    i watched PLANET OF THE HUMANS and we already had that horrid movie, THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES, where you saw the Filipina showing her family pictures back home in Manila, while she takes care of the “king” and “queen’s” kids who were like those psychopathic monkeys-raised-w-wire-mother experiments, but when you see the maid living in one of the kid’s discarded toy mansions in the backyard for privacy you shudder for just how unholy all this is… so i was sobbing how we’re toast because i have no witchy ways as i watched PLANET OF THE HUMANS and all the folks, Bill McKibbon ESPECIALLY, all had that same obvious way of liars and hucksters where you see red lights actually flash LIAR! (Unamused mentioned his own radar) …and no one KNEW they were hucksters??? come ON… it was all obvious.

    but we WANNA believe. i see why. the pain is unbearable at times but it’s the only Adult Thing to face anymore: the ugliness of what we have wrought.

    now, i can just say the obvious and harp about how “they” fucked it up. but as James said of my shitty cartoon i apparently failed at making my point, WHAT IS ANYONE’S ALTERNATIVE? YOU HAVE POSTED NO ALTERNATIVE TO ALL “THIS.”

    the supposed “middle class” and managerial class don’t have any clout and can’t call in all those ivy league connections, either. they’re considered collateral damage for The Cause. no one challenges it. no one’s got a better IDEA…

    i realized he’s right. / enough bitching. i don’t wanna work in some big cooperative, either. i’d blow my brains out. i’m a LONER.

    so what system is next?…

    i can’t go anywhere with the existing goals behind the extant systems…

    but if our economies are based on DEBT and CONSTANT GROWTH and we’re running into LIMITS of people, resources, space blah blah blah. and no one’s fucking or having kids even before covid so i don’t know what Japan and other countries with declining population are doing but:

    ISN’T THE ONLY QUESTION LEFT TO ASK: WHAT KIND OF SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC SYSTEM CAN BE BUILT WITHOUT DEBT AND SUSTAIN LIFE NOW AND NOT CAUSE RAMPANT EXPLOITATION OF EVERYTHING LEFT AND FUCK OVER OUR CHILDREN???

    because until you ask THAT question, everything is trained to consume eat grow take kill exploit… GROW.

    so that’s what i’d love to see a group of crazy wild thinkers think up because nothing NOTHING will change or can change when the gods and questions are …archaic irrelevant suicidal.

    so i believe in this place and the minds here and i feel like i’m playing out some Grasshopper role with Unaumed in rushing back with what i hope are some directions in beginning to ask THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.

    because no matter how much fun i’m having over here, i cannot sell or pitch ANYTHING that rivals what we’ve got.

    i will say above here and online, that i aim to undermine Their Story. you can’t arrest me for sedition for doing my job as an artist. but it childish to undermine Their Story without splashing around in the mess of trying to come up with a new, relevant one…

    so, KAREN: that is what i want help with. what kind of viable economic system can exist without debt or excessive crippling debt and constant growth?

    if i can start my own little cottage industry idea and be one of the experiments, then i’ll share what happens if we ever do have a separate site.

    for now, Wolf forgive me for crashing any comments section area i can find Petunia, Unamused or Karen.

    i’m digging that No Name i think his name is. we got kin on here! welcome Brother. love how you dug Unamused doing his mental Bruce Lee game on some folks here.

    x

    • implicit says:

      Gold, silver and a garden to get lost alone in, if you enjoy loneliness as many artists do :>[}

    • Joe says:

      Military term we used to use…
      Situation normal, all fu cked up.

    • Cambric Finish says:

      kitten lopez, i can’t say i am always catching all the wavelengths you are generating when you comment but i always want to tune-in when you are broadcasting. this time your expression of pain comes across clearly and i hope you find some comfort as a valued member of the Wolf Street community. i certainly struggle to understand how to personally make a difference for a better world.

      • Joe says:

        Not trying to stir crap either.
        Was in Canadian Military and on 2 peacekeeping tours in Cyprus and Golan Heights. My whole Regiment was absorbed by budget cuts and no longer exists G-battery 3 RCHA. This history no longer exists since 1997.
        Sorry if I offended.

    • noname says:

      Hi Kitten.

      I’ve noticed your highs and lows.

      Have you?

      Find ways to ground yourself in either instance.

      Would you believe I predicted the low?

      Sipping my tea grounds me. Other substances throw me off.

      I often “Ctrl+F kitten“.

    • p coyle says:

      ” WHAT IS ANYONE’S ALTERNATIVE?”

      disengage. stop playing the game. power wilts in the face of ambivalence.

      the new lockdown world has opened a lot of people’s eyes to both self-sufficiency and new ideas about how we come out the other side of things. sadly, “a lot of people” in my world is a rounding error when it comes to the overall population and their various peccadilloes, but i try to remain in the camp of the optimists. the glass isn’t exactly half-full, but at least it ain’t empty yet.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Dear Kitten – Covid19 is just Mother Earth’s way of telling us there’s too many people.

  19. Seymour Baggins says:

    Wolf can you explain to us all how these food lines work?

    I’m assuming they’re miles long of car’s idling, or starting-stopping, all waiting in line, just one person per car.

    Burning fuel? But no money for food? Infinite fuel money but no food money? This doesn’t make sense.

    People can’t wait in line for food, they must wait in an auto? What about ‘homeless’ or those with an auto that don’t start?

    This is like drive-in churches of Calif;

    Can you explain how this really works, or how is it that 2 miles of cars can all arrive at a food-bank line to wait 4+ hours running the engine, for $100 USD or more for the full tank of fuel, but they have no money for food?

    We all know the real deal “Free Food”, brings them out. Better than a Walmart deal, or a K-Mart blue-light special.

    Insane.

  20. SocalJim says:

    In a matter of a handful months, the economy will surge and stocks will hit record highs. I called this on this blog in mid March, and I stick with this prediction. Housing will also head higher, although it never had the dip. Between now and then, there will be some hicups in stocks driven by the political season and the recovery.

  21. Javert Chip says:

    SoCalJim

    Makes perfect sense:

    o Kill 50-60,000 fellow citizens
    o Put 30,000,000 fellow citizens out of work
    o Bankrupt a lot of their employers
    o Spend (at lest) $6,000,000,000,000 we don’t have
    o Lock everybody up at home to avoid cooties

    AND, POW!! THE REAL ESTATE MARKET IS HOTTER THAN EVER!

    • SocalJim says:

      Not “HOTTER THAN EVER”. I expect small steady increases. Urban weakness will be offset with close in Surburban strength.

    • they were printing money before the crisis now they are printing even more. the fed will try and avoid any real price discovery in the mortgage market. there will be no real market in housing, just phony valuations which allow you to keep making payments like nothing is wrong, and keep paying property taxes like nothing is wrong, and keep paying insurance premiums like nothing is wrong. you will REFI out, borrow on HELOCs, do REVMOs, like nothing is wrong (BULLISH). a case of (mind) money over matter. time to reinflate the reinflation genie..

  22. ft says:

    Well, this is a lovely string of comments but, having scrolled my way through it, I can’t for the life of me remember what the original article was about.

    • WES says:

      Ft:

      LOL!

      The Scottish invented, kilts, bagpipes, scotch, and golf!

      Poor Nick, is trying to figure out where he took a wrong turn!

      Nick, you made a left turn at Albuquerque!

      That is how you ended up in Scotland!

      Bugs Bunny!

  23. Karen says:

    Dear Kitten (cute handle, by the way!)

    I share your pain. When there’s great suffering in society, I tune into it, like you do. In fact, I find it almost unbearable to witness suffering and injustice without trying to DO SOMETHING – anything I can – to try to alleviate it.

    The problems seem insurmountable. But clearly they’re not, because we’re having this conversation here at Wolf Street right now. Similar conversation are happening right now all over the world. That’s how change starts–I alluded to it in one of my articles–when even people who benefit from the status quo no longer accept it as fair. Because, as you say, they have the credibility and connections to say: This Has to Stop.

    I’ve felt at times like a broken record–and I probably did annoy my clients more than once with my writing. But I’ve begun to shift the way they, and many of my peers, view these issues. I had a big impact on them through Paladin’s fee donation campaign–we leveraged $350k in donations to individuals, families, small businesses and service organizations devoted to helping people impacted by coronavirus. More important to me than the money was that we started to change the way people think about their wealth, in relation to others who have much less. The response was unbelievable, honestly.

    Many of my contacts in finance are as outraged as I am about the corruption and callousness we see around us. And there’s evidence that the rising tide of outrage is having the intended result. PPP loans that were taken under wrong or false pretenses are being returned (Harvard, Princeton, Ruth’s Chris steakhouse and several others). Hospital chiefs are being shamed into taking pay cuts, after trying to pass the buck to their staff. The Fed has been forced into being transparent about bailout recipients. These may seem like small things, but they are signs that the winds of change are blowing.

    Then there’s Wolf, who’s in a category all his own. He is *indefatigable* in providing first-rate research and analysis that demystifies a complex industry (made intentionally complex for purposes of obfuscation). This is incredibly important and valuable–you can’t change something you don’t understand! For years Wolf didn’t ask for donations–until I made him create a link so that I could support him :-) But he doesn’t do it for the money; Wolf performs a huge public service every single day of the week because he CARES. And we are all in his debt.

    Just last week Tom Pfotzer reached out to me so that we could figure out a way to build on the dialogue that started here, to muster grassroots remedies for some of the problems we’ve been discuss in this forum. I had never spoken with him before–never even heard of him before he raised the banner two weeks ago, suggesting we Wolf Streeters move from talk to positive action. In our initial brief conversation, Tom and I realized we had so many things in common–you could call it a miracle– that we were able to so quickly find common ground.

    There are miracles all around us. The permaculture movement is growing by leaps and bounds (pun intended) and offers a parallel philosophy for social change. The TimeBanking movement is coming into its own. Then there are micro-lending communities, transition towns, shared living arrangements, the tiny house movement…these all speak to the same yearning to rebuild community, stop wasting precious time and resources, and become more resilient–without waiting on government or business to solve our problems. Again, a sea change is coming.

    Kahlil Gibran said, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding” and that’s how I’ve always viewed it. You can’t solve any problem when you’re living in denial; and denial has been our story for two decades now (or is it three? I’ve lost count). I for one am incredibly relieved that the denial phase is behind us now, so we can move forward. There will be very difficult times ahead of us (if you follow Kubler-Ross’s schema, we can look forward to more anger, bargaining, and depression, which are already plentiful). But at least it’s not denial.

    We can handle all of those things by working together. What’s been forgotten that we need each other, and there can be no doubt of that now. Read Johann Hari’s Lost Connections. He tells the poignant and powerful story of his own years-long struggle with depression, and how his outlook was transformed through the rebuilding of community.

    Today I reminded Tom of a famous quote by Margaret Meade, who said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

    We ARE the change. It’s already here, now.

    Hang in there–

    • Implicit says:

      Amen Karen! Well said. Thanks.

    • Tom Pfotzer says:

      There you go, folks. There are no more rugs big enough to sweep this mess under.

      My Dear Ms. Kitten Lopez: you earned your pay today with that one. KL puts words to the stupid, she’s busting out of the endure-some-more plan.

      If you think it’s time to transition from expressions of dismay to working together to build some solutions, I invite you to get in touch. We need you, your ideas and your determination.

      E-mail me at tom dot pfotzer at rstarmail dot com if you want in.

      Kitten, I’m lookin’ at ya. All you folks with prior experience designing and building your own products and self-suffcient lifestyles (motorcycle stands thru homes, businesses, farms, etc.) are particularly invited.

      Can’t move ahead until the problem(s) are well-defined, and alternatives are identified. Then comes the hard work of iterative implementation.

      The reason this job hasn’t been done yet is that it requires cooperation, which humans will do almost anything to avoid, and a lot of underpaid hard work, which is the 2nd thing humans love to avoid.

      Just to set expectations.

      :)

      • kitten lopez says:

        oh man… you and Karen have got me crying first thing in the morning, but happy tears of RELIEF joy and…. WOW ..lots of Wow… i’d forgotten which story i’d posted in and was leafing through and found all THIS when i thought i’d just get patted on the head. WOW… it’s happening…

        when i first came to this site, THIS is what i saw.

        My Dear Tom i copied your email and will email you NOW.

        i’m fully IN. i’m so IN you have NO idea!

        xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Yes, a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens changed the world. I think the small group was the 0.1%. They were pretty effective.

  24. Doug says:

    Horses for courses
    At this point in time its capatalism that’s in crises and needs to get back to basics
    Bring back ‘creative destruction and moral hazard’
    Regulate and create honest brokers that force the Cockwombles to compete, like a gold standard any form of hard money that creates long term planning and investment

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