Some Green Shoots, but Finding them Is Tricky.
By John E. McNellis, Principal at McNellis Partners, for WOLF STREET:
A year ago, our shopping centers were shuttered, and our tenants so crushed we forgave their April rent. Believing the world would reopen by mid-April, we thought our merchants would have a couple weeks of free-rent to make up for March’s closure. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
A year later and we’re still forgiving and deferring rent for our hardest-hit tenants. And hoping the Governor will finally permit them to operate at 100 percent capacity.
Where are we today? Starting with what you already know, second and third tier malls, particularly enclosed malls, are dead and gone and aren’t coming back. Their dinosaur anchors—Sears, J.C. Penny, Macy’s, and the like—were sinking in the tar pits long before the virus’s coup de grace.
In counter point, discounters like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and Ross have thrived in the last year—Ross’s stock has doubled—suggesting it’s neither the virus nor e-commerce that killed off the mall habitués; rather it’s the mismanagement of the Jurassic retailers themselves.
Supermarkets have thrived in the Covid era, many doing better than ever. Just as with the clothing discounters, bargain markets have done particularly well. However, smaller specialty markets—think Trader Joe’s—have been smacked by occupancy limits. With, say, a 25 percent maximum occupancy, small markets lack the necessary floor area to get enough customers in the door. Nothing like freezing outside in a long line to dampen one’s enthusiasm for cheap cheese.
In December, Bloomberg reported that 110,000 restaurants—16 percent of all US eateries—had permanently closed and that the industry was in “free fall”. Maybe. Meanwhile, no one’s going hungry. In fact, MSN.com’s Market Watch reported last week that 61 percent of us have been packing on weight like bears before hibernating. Couple these two facts and it’s no surprise that prepared foods—ready-to-eat meals—have been flying off supermarket shelves.
Back to restaurants. The continental divide between the vanquished and the victors are the two magic words: “drive thru”. “Take-out” is runner up. We have one Jack-in-the-Box with sales up 50 percent. Drive-thru was an obvious winner for all from day one, but take-out has been more selective. Pizza has been rolling in dough, but the homebound quickly learned that only a snob with a head cold would bother picking up complicated meals from fancy restaurants, meals that taste like Chef Boyardee if eaten forty-five minutes later.
Home improvement stores—Home Depot, Lowes and their regional counterparts—stumbled for about an hour at the pandemic’s outset, but then roared to life as half the country started hammering away at home.
To no one’s surprise, misery’s favorites—liquor and cigarettes—didn’t miss a beat and, depending on your point of view, continue to either comfort or curse the afflicted, profitably in either case.
Besides badly run soft and hard goods retailers and the better class of restaurants, the biggest losers over the last twelve months have been personal services, gyms and cinema. Personal services—nails, hair, massage and so on—flat-lined last year. Today, they’re coming back, but slower than legally permitted. Our tenants report their clients are still scared.
In for thirty miles of bad road a year ago, dry cleaners are still stuck in neutral, their fates dependent on the next chapter of the work-at-home phenomenon.
Gyms were padlocked last year, many closed forever; the survivors are reopening now. Cost—a common thread differentiating retail’s winners and losers—is a big factor with gyms. Higher-end gyms are bucking up against Peloton (stock up 400 percent in the last year) and the fancy home gym movement. At $10 a month, Planet Fitness, Crunch Fitness and the other discount gyms are immune from that competition.
Cinemas? With zero income for nearly a year, a global streaming business that will likely do for theaters what Netflix did to Blockbuster Video and no plan B (the only way to repurpose a movie theater is with a bulldozer), it’s surprising that more chains haven’t given up. When asked, one big-time landlord guessed that the latest generation, state-of-the-art cinemas will be fine, while another suggested that cinemas have no choice: they’re stuck riding their landing barges to Normandy beach and praying for the best.
On to today. We see some retailers out looking for new deals: clothing discounters, bargain supermarkets, coffee chains, quick serve and fast food restaurants—hell, any tenant with a drive-thru—home improvement centers, auto uses (tires, oil changers and car washes), and cell phone stores. We also see opportunistic restaurant operators out there picking over the bones.
There are some green shoots this spring. Finding them is tricky. By John E. McNellis, author of Making it in Real Estate: Starting Out as a Developer.
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Just went to the local AMC last night to see Kong and Godzilla. Was pretty busy in the small theatre. So perhaps things are starting to go back to normal. The movie ticket was just shy of $20 for one seat not popcorn. Sigh
Ouch. I saw the movie with my whole family including 3 kids on HBO Max. Only $14.99 per month. Free popcorn too :-)
“Grandpa, what’s a movie theater?”
“A kind of dinosaur, sweetheart…”
“Great-grandpa, what’s a drive-in?”
And the cycle continues….
Yet people like you seem to miss the fact that it’s a cycle of destruction and plunder, not some natural and healthy balanced cycle. Just look around you, everything is getting smaller, worse, more fractured and divided up, and you actually own less of it, and control even less, and everything is more expensive even and the value of your currency lessens by the day.
You can be in any given home now where all members of the “family” are doing, watching, and experiencing different things form each other all while “spending time with reach other “. How is any of what is going on today better than before? It’s not! Quite literally everything was the exact inverse, always getting better and bigger before some inflection point sometime around the late 1960s. It’s been a downward trajectory that is only picking up speed ever since.
Cinema competes with theatre not with Netflix and it is very cheap compared with the broadway.
ps. You could see most movies within days in cam on pirateflix and almost all within a few months. Seeing them on Netflix or Disney+ wont kill the movie theaters.
I watched it for free on HBO MAX.
Wow! $20 seat price!! My day a “loge” seat with nicely cushioned tilt back seat…..50c………Fifty cents.
Times have changed!
Can’t figure out how families with young children that want to go “to the movies” can afford to……..
Same with league sports venues………beyond me!
We had seven children (all still going strong in their middle ages) and when we were refused entrance to Great America (San Jose CA) because we had brought our own snacks I swore I would never go back and didn’t.
We are now more than a year into the lifestyle restrictions due to Covid and some light is being detected in that tunnel for some business classifications coming back slow but sure. And, some are having great difficulty.
In my particular area, the Sierra foothills most people do want restaurants to really open up again. This is a moderate retirement community near the northern entrance to Yosemite National Park.
Road traffic surprisingly is picking up. Daughter/husband commute from Southern Santa Clara County up 99 to San Jose traffic is already back to “normal”…..lots! Their tech business is now seeing some appearances to being on the mend.
Home building is up; commercial building is down. Another son as a commercial building sup has not had so many workers “on the bench” (layoffs) in years. These are good paying jobs.
One family in the mortgage business for decades reports that they have never had a better year in income due to the low interest rates and so many refi’s!
There are winners and losers. The tell will be when all the “stim” payments and conditions are lifted and most people will then be cast to the winds…….
Just hope there are more of one than the other!
My feeling is that the pandemic hastened by 10 to 20 years what was going to happen anyways. It’s painful to watch struggling business and see things shuttered.
Hopefully this will end soon.
Next up for job killers will be drones, and that will be coming sooner than people think.
No…..drones aren’t coming.
The FAA will end that fever dream.
No one wants 55lb boulders operated by the inept flying over their homes.
Outside-hopefully before a gutted FAA allows public overflight beta testing of an ‘ineptly-flown 55lb boulder’ concept…
may we all find a better day.
FAA isn’t as gutted as folks think.
Got some friends who are FAA inspectors….They say Bezos will walk on the planet Mars before his crazy drone delivery scheme is approved.
The regulatory changes coming will greatly restrict drone activity.
“Got some friends who are FAA inspectors….They say Bezos will walk on the planet Mars before his crazy drone delivery scheme is approved.”
Hah! Money talks…in the right places.
So how did that work out for Boeing and the MAX grounding ?
Did the money talk ?
And ALL the airlines subject to Part121 regs ?
Did the money talk ?
The big boys and their money only goes so far.
Death raining from the sky trumps
their check book.
Bezos is going to lose this one.
Just like he lost in his very public divorce.
Oh….by the way where are the jet packs and self driving cars ?
Yeah…..just more tech bro BS.
The fed catered to Bezos and his ilk during the pandemic at the expense of the little guy. They’ll continue to do the same. It’s gonna happens and already is in some locations. Ground based drones deliver food at some colleges. The events of the last year have been a great test for UBI for all of the delivery folks.
The Fed ( Federal Reserve ) may have catered to the billionaire class but this is way different.
This is a true hazard to people who live on the ground.
Any object that weighs 55lbs ( a drone ) can kill people and destroy property.
The federal government in the form of the FAA isn’t going to allow this without airline grade regulation.
They don’t want low bidders flying boulders across cities.
Even Bezos won’t be able to afford this level of dilligence.
So no…..despite all the nonsense and stunts with airborne drones…. not happening.
Airplanes way a lot more than 55lbs and could kill people but they are approved…
In some places in this Country, those drones will be shot out of the sky.
It’s a nutty idea and dangerous.
“Last July, a young lady laid sunbathing in Kentucky when a drone appeared over her and hovered. This infuriated her father, William H. Merideth, who subsequently fired his gun and blasted the drone out of the sky.”
Bullitt County Judge Rebecca Ward dismissed all charges.” David Boggs wasn’t too happy as his drone was worth two and a half grand. “I think it’s credible testimony that his drone was hovering from anywhere, for two or three times over these people’s property, that it was an invasion of their privacy and that they had the right to shoot down this drone,” the judge said.
Oh yeah, that’s how you do things in bourbon and whiskey country! Personally, I’d like to shake Mr. Merideth’s hand and say,
“Nice shot dad!”
Flying drones are great news-fodder. Great to get your name in the papers but not something realistic. But robotic vesicles on the other hand are something that will arrive massively and will kill jobs
Mall stores were closing before the pandemic due to the Amazon effect. Drove a distance in traffic to a mall to find what they wanted was out of stock at the store. Checked to find it available on Amazon.
People shoplifted stores, then there were people stealing packages from porches.
Netflix sales are growing. Cinemas are laggards. People turned to big screen TV’s in their living rooms.
Malls died when security stopped being a priority. Back before the GFC I routinely went to our local mall, never spent less than $100 while just browsing. I stopped going when I started to feel unsafe. A criminal element became pervasive and it included many of the employees. That’s what killed the malls, IMO. Even today, I rarely go to the mall alone.
Agree, ”like totally dudette” Pet, as usual with you.
Was not ”really” a mall rat ever, as was too old by the time malls were ”the thing”… but went at least once a week to get the latest and bestest,,, etc..
When it started to feel not safe, I stopped going after noon local time, and then stopped all together, as I am not fond of carrying a piece, and certainly don’t want to be forced to hurt some crazy person who thinks I am unable because I am dis abled in limited ways.
Empty malls feel unsafe, like you can meet a zombie when you turn a corner. But how much was that unsafe feeling due to you becoming an old lady?
Still remember a time that only criminals, hookers and sailers wore tattoos.
re “old lady” comment:
in the ’80s when i was a freshman or sophomore in high school, our athletic, funny, tough and scrapper friend (same class) got raped one night at the Cherry Hill Mall by a stranger they never found. She was never the same, it broke her, and we were never the same about that mall, and Cherry Hill was called The Little LA because it was all about the MALL and big white girl hair. (Cherry Hill is also in New Jersey, where Bon Jovi’s big hair came from.)
Retail business = virus
Shut-downs = immunogical pressure
Survivors = variants
So we’re creating variants that are resistant to regulation which will eventually consume and kill the host. Is there a plan B?
Even before the pandemic most of the gym members were lightweight fitness enthusiast. They mostly used cardio, lightweights and fancy equipments. Women favored mostly yoga, group fitness and zumba classes. Average American women from suburbs can easily beat Lance Armstrong in a spin class. Only 10-15% of the members used heavy weights and complex equipment or power-lifting. After covid, the previous users of treadmill-bikes-lightweights brought them at home. Most women are babysitting at home because schools are only online. The group classes are closed (limited) and women are now missing. I am stuck with those big gym-bros who only do power-lifting. Golds gym declared bankruptcy but kept open.
We hope to go back to the gym someday. Not yet, but someday.
“Most women are babysitting at home”
“big gym-bros who only do power-lifting”
Covid – the year of a return to a “Make America Great-type “normalcy”.
Yep, you got it. My wife did Yoga with a group at the Yoga instructors house and went to gym for group exercise? No gym now, and the Yoga Yogi moved to the east bay bought a house and is doing instruction on line.
I got my shots, wife and son had there first one, almost every one of our friends (all over the west coast) and there 20 something kids all have had there shots.
All of a sudden wife and friends are planning wine country trips now. Some things never change…
CP-explains why i could never figure out why some of our young hires at the moto shop HAD to have a gym membership, but curiously, usually needed an inordinate amount of encouragement to move a few cases of oil (no ‘power-lifting’ for them without glances from potential dates?).
plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose…
may we all find a better day.
We were using Amazon before the pandemic. During parts of the pandemic when cases were high we also used Instacart for groceries. Now Hubby can go back to grocery shopping but he makes fewer trips now.
What we miss still is going to the small cafes and local eateries. Time will tell what the new normal will look like for us, it will probably take this year to figure it out.
Our budget will change to adapt to the higher prices we are already seeing for food, utilities, taxes, insurance etc.
I like to shop internet and order by mail but I LOVE to shop at a real store,browse,and physically see the thing and most importantly get it right away then and there. And never was a big fan of malls but they are great in the winter cold or summer heat. Things will always change and change for the better is good. But the future is very, very hard to predict. There are those who confidently declare that this or that will be or not be, will die or boom or whatever. Trends come and go and sometimes will keep coming back because humans have certain innate characteristics that will likely always be present. For example,humans are social beings and this means some things and trends such as physical markets will always exist
“I like to shop internet and order by mail but I LOVE to shop at a real store,browse,and physically see the thing and most importantly get it right away then and there”
I agree, although I HATE clothing stores and trinket stores, so my choices are much more limited.
But we’re in the minority. Most people are okay buying faucets, rugs, and all sorts of other things without seeing it, so there aren’t enough of us to keep the stores profitable.
I’ve been doing most of my shopping via mail order catalogs. Its old school. Like a 1950s, Sears catalog. Working great. Get to shop while I’m on my bed half asleep watching a sporting event. You can have all these failed malls that don’t sell anything you really need and who’s primary customers are teenagers, and you can have the high tech bull s$it like Amazon and make Jeff Bezos richer and richer, and drive more mom & pop shops out of business and have your credit card stolen on line, and be enrolled in Amazon Prime when you expect and can’t get enrolled. Enjoy
Retail will be back. Now is a great time to be a buyer. Ross stores? Please…
“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
Yogi Berra lives !!!
Talk about inflation with the drive-thrus. Most fast food is way up in cost and the “dollar” items have been deleted. But no matter, I’m completely sick of the thought of fast food now after a year of nothing else outside the house.
I suppose the concept of healthy food or home cooking from a drive-thru is
not a workable business model even in this environment.
Many fast food options have apps now that they run deals through. If you aren’t too picky you’ll be able to get full meal for like half price, $3-4.
Went to a Burger King the other week for the first time in many months…and my usual order was around $11…Definitely not worth it or that good. Especially since a week before I hit up a taco truck on El Camino Real and got 3 Carne Asada taco and a can of coke for $7… just gotta poke around.
Well, though not exactly healthy the In and Out animal style has a pleasant spot in my memory
Yep. At the grocery store today and doing the mental math on doing a good burger at home on the grill. I think it probably works out to about $2 each to do nice 6oz. burger.
One of the greatest cultural advancement would be the abolition of “fast food” eateries! Truly “junk foods” vacuumed down the gullet with the attendant side effects of horrible health issues in the long term.
Next is to learn how to garden seasonally. Dig up those lawns; fill in those swimming pools and learn how to grow your own foods even if u have to have a greenhouse!
I have nothing against good restaurants that serve good wholesome foods.
Our society must learn to take back a more natural way of life from the monstrous corporate food giants that have co-opted our real world!
Where are you that you are still waiting for the Governor to allow you to live?
That would determine were I live, and if I keep business interests there.
Inslee announced a couple of days ago that the citizens of WA have been misbehaving and new restrictions are back on the table as of Monday 4/12……..???
That plus the growth of variants- BC seems to have particularly hard hit with the bad Brazilian strain
Seems like a race between variants and vaccines now
It has been a crazy year. I wonder when the REAL reflection will what could have and should have been done across the world. The obsession of putting the economy before health has had the opposite effect.
I’ve just been out to see a live music gig, no social distancing required. I’m lucky enough to live in a country that has eradicated COVID and kept it at bay successfully. Plenty of missteps along the way and plenty of business closures etc. But nothing like that that has happened elsewhere.
Sure we have vaccines now but the economic reckonings still coming.
I live in a country, that opened its borders, and fenced its capital.
Leaders locked down citizens, released felons, shut down small businesses, while they partied with the elites.
Drug use , suicides, and crime up. Meanwhile the elites wealth rocketed to the moon, while they experimented on the peasants. Now if we can disarm them, and keep them socially distanced while storming the gates
we may remain elites.
If you live in the US, at least one item in your laundry list is fabricated BS: suicides in the US in 2020 dropped by 5.5% from 2019, to 44,834, the lowest since 2015.
I’m sure you are correct. Our state is down slightly from 2019.
What did increase was youth suicide in my state & drug overdoses. But I’m sure it was stimmie $$ , not social isolation related.
If they are due to covid wouldn’t that make them covid deaths. Yes, I am that cynical.
Covid deaths are extra. In 2020, TOTAL deaths by all causes jumped by over 500k to 3.36 million deaths, per provisional estimates by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), per the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
CDC and NIMH web sites don’t have 2020 suicide figures yet.
AP, the article you probably are getting your info from, is using preliminary government data.
You know what data is out?
Overall Death Rates in America.
2020 is virtually unchanged from 2019 which is virtually unchanged from 2018 with a trend going back to 2010.
yep – you know what that means.
in terms of the sources, see my comment above.
In terms of this: “2020 is virtually unchanged from 2019 which is virtually unchanged from 2018” — How can you post such effing fabricated garbage??? See above for the actual data and chart. Don’t abuse my site to spread lies like this.
I noticed the suicide #s were down too. One thing I’ve been enjoying is my local comedy club in gorgeous Sarasota, FL has been having outdoor comedy shows every Fri/Sat night.
It’s fairly windy (not far from Gulf of Mexico), socially distanced, most folks wear masks except when eating/drinking.
It’s nice to feel somewhat normal again. The people in charge can’t win with a certain element. If you ignore Covid (Freedum!) than you get a big stack of corpses.
If you try to take smart measures to protect your citizens, it becomes political and somebody screams “Tyranny!” at the City Council meeting because they were asked to wear a mask.
British musician Sam Fender, from the working class region of North Shields, released a song called ‘Dead Boys’ that spoke of the high suicide rate of young men. It’s a powerful message. And it has made an impact on a few potential suicides that listened to the song and thought twice according to Sam!
“The anniversaries are short lived
But they come back around at break neck speed
My world spins so fast
The centrifugal force keeps me stuck in the middle
We close our eyes
Blind our pain
Nobody ever could explain
All the dead boys in our home town”
Wolf, If you read through the data a bit more you will notice that suicide rates are down in 2020 but unintentional injury are way up (over 20% in one year), dramatically so and these two numbers can overlap greatly since suicide and unintentional injury can be hard to tell apart. I am not saying suicides are up in 2020, but there sure were a lot of people dying accidently.
Good lordy, making up stuff…
We know people who drove to work drove a lot faster because there was no traffic, and instead of fender-benders, we got fatalities: The National Safety Council (NSC) reported that motor vehicle fatalities rose 8% in 2020, to about 42,060 people dying in vehicle crashes. In terms of traffic deaths to the number of miles driven, the rate of fatalities jumped 24% — the biggest spike in nearly a century, according to the NSC.
2020 was also the year of D-I-Y. that goes hand in hand with accidents
With many restaurants etc having gone out of business, the remaining ones will have less competition (=more pricing power) and most likely more debt that they need to service. So they need and will raise their prices, probably substantially.
Of course this is “transitory inflation”
1) Finding green shoot in late 2009 and 2010 was tricky.
2) BAC weekly look like the DOW in 2000 – 2010.
3) BAC backbone is between : Dec 6 2016 close @ 23.08 and
BAC hump from Feb 27 2017 close @ 25.44. Both two are green shoot.
4) This backbone support BAC in Dec 2018 and in Mar 2020.
5) There is an RSI line, L1, coming from June 6 2017 low @ 22.07 to big red close on Sep 4 2017 @ 22.89.
6) This line L1 blew up Feb 2020 gap.
7) A resistance line, L2, coming from big green close on Mar 27 2017.
8) This line, L2, blocked BAC on Dec 23 2019 peak, that led to Mar 2020 plunge.
9) This week BAC report earning.
10) BAC > L1. BAC might jump to L2 and osc between L1 and L2, before a correction.
We took the kids to Barnes and Noble yesterday so they could understand that books don’t only come from Amazon. In addition to enlarged kid sections they also now appear to allow dogs in the store.
Pretty smart to use all means to attract your clientele into the store. Place had a lot of shoppers.
There is a large used book store within walking distance of our house. They also carry some movies, games, musical instruments, and dust collectors. Fun place to shop and the kids love buying books.
The store has/had game nights, movies in the parking lot. It’s a very community-centered business and the local community is happy to support them.
I went to Barnes and Nobel also the other day. The only problem was the store was closed and empty. Gone!
Wolf has two darn good backup writers in you and Nick.
Ian-heartily second your comment. Always look forward to John & Nick (…and Wolf!…).
may we all find a better day.
Thank you Ian, very kind j
Great info that was very well written
i.e. “packing on weight like bears before hibernating”
and “meals that taste like Chef Boyardee if eaten 45 minutes later “
Great stuff, thanks
Depending on the source an estimated 15 to 20 million more Americans have become food insecure since the pandemic, pushing the total hungry population in the US over 50 million. There are definitely more hungry people now, regardless of what’s going on with restaurants.
Have you ever actually met a hungry person in the US? This is one of the weirder talking points out there.
I’ll give you a hint: hungry people look skinny.
The diets consist of 25c juice barrels and flamin hots, frito pie and honeybuns. Not very nutritious.
Your town has plenty of poor people I’m sure. You just don’t know any of them. Try looking harder…poverty in this country is not ‘fake news’. JFC
I grew up actually hungry so I know exactly what it looks like. This talking point is incredibly fake.
Actual hunger means you are lacking in weight. The commenter above pivoted to “not eating quality nutritious food” which applies to most Americans (or anyone else in the First World these days. There is no such thing as quality, local food anymore. All over the world you can see large trucks dropping off ready made food, even at what are supposed to be high end restaurants)
One of the things you acquire when you get as old as me (73) is the ability to see long term trends. Currently there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth about how ordering from Amazon and others has destroyed malls and other brick and mortar stores. During the Fifties, we got our groceries from a local grocery store. My mother would phone in the order, and the guy would come by with the panel truck a few hours later. If we went to the store, we didn’t take things off the shelf. The owner and his helper would put the items in a bag.
I remember my mother’s best friend would take us along when she made a trip to the nearest supermarket, 20 miles away in Springfield, MA. Shopping carts. I had never seen them before. You pushed them around a huge, brightly lit store and picked out your items yourself. Radical! This put the small grocery stores out of business.
In the Sixties we saw malls come to CT. They put a lot of Mom and Pop stores out of business.
Now it’s Amazon. If you try to stop change, you will be like King Canute trying to hold back the tide.
Sadly, I too am old enough to remember those local grocery stores!
Piggly Wiggly — remember?
Related: Good long read over on ZH today: ‘Global Debt Problem’ with debt now estimated at 335 % of GDP.
Corporate debt including commercial debt (non- paying tenants) thought to be underestimated and European banks near collapse, only kept alive by ECB.
PS: I run a lot of ZH gravel through the sluice to find a few nuggets and have done a bit of research on their
purported authors. One should be aware that ‘South Front’ and the beautifully named ‘Strategic Culture Foundation’ are Russian govt outlets.
“Global Debt Problem”
Nothing that more debt won’t solve, because when you have too much debt, it makes sense to greatly increase it to fix the problem. Central bankers are smart like that.
It makes it very tough to be an investor these days because I think the outcome is going to be politically determined. Could continue to burn through savers wealth or politicians could kill profits and markets implode.
Getting to be a double standard between public pension and saver with a $50,000 inflation proof pension worth $10 million equivalent if you do it yourself.
I kind of prefer to get my news from the state dept. (CNN), FBI/DofJ (New York Times), and the CIA (Washington Post)!
Don’t forget Facebook! LOL
So tell us, WES, where is the non-biased info from?
Why don’t you tell us about 5-10 places to go? Thanks!
“One should be aware that ‘South Front’ and the beautifully named ‘Strategic Culture Foundation’ are Russian govt outlets”
What are you talking about son?!
Half of the congress now is Russian! You can basically call them the second DUMA !!
with people in the Democratic Party pushing the MMT( Nationalize the Economy) , who cares about a bunch of wankers in ZH?!
the education system in the US have deteriorated so much, that No one under 40yo gives a damn about the DIRECTION that this country is headed!!
This same education have created ( unfortunately) very compliant population, to the extent that robbing their freedom by the government is considered a worthwhile cause to grant them security from phantom enemies, even in health aspects.
This is what happens to society when it gives too much power to the unworthy.
What part of that 335% is debt to their central bank. aka fake debt. Add the inflation shock that hopefully comes and debt to GDP isn’t that bad
Re: Service businesses, nail, hair, & beauty.
I am looking for a new hair salon in town. So far, none will give me an appointment unless I provide a credit card number. I intend to pay cash, and don’t trust them enough to provide a CC number for their files. I have a good reason to distrust them. Every time they say they don’t take cash, I hang up. This is also true of associated beauty businesses like spas.
This is a highly discriminatory practice, not accepting cash, excludes a large unbanked population. It also makes me leery as a customer that they need to have my CC information on file. They claim it is so they can charge me if I ever miss an appointment, but it is mostly the salons that cancel at the last minute, when their employees don’t show up. This CC requirement is a red flag to me that they provide really bad service and have to insure they get paid.
Oddly enough, I have been a customer of top salons in NYC, Miami, and Palm Beach and have never been asked to provide a CC number in advance.
If your “beauty” services tenants are hurting, it is their own fault. I still have the cash to spend, but can’t. I’ll wait until my next trip to Palm Beach or Miami and spend it there. They are always happy to take my money.
Maybe offer to leave a cash deposit. I own a business that relies on booked appointments, and cancellations are common enough to present an extinction-level threat. Reservation deposits are required across many big industries, for good reason.
As to not accepting cash well… that’s stupid. I love cash.
I don’t accept your premise that customers cancel all the time at the last minute. When I need to reschedule an appointment, I do so giving them as much time as possible. If they were only asking customers who abuse the scheduling, I wouldn’t have a problem with the CC or deposit requirement.
Here’s my story. They called me and asked to reschedule my appointment because their stylist changed her schedule. They offered me another appt at their other salon close to the same time as my original appt. I accepted the appt at the second salon, went, paid cash, and also got charged for rescheduling at the last minute. They eventually fixed the problem, but they managed to inconvenience me twice, and I don’t get to penalize them when they inconvenience me.
Besides, having to give up financial information to get a F’ing haircut is just crazy.
P.S. Maybe you should keep a list of people who would take a cancelled appointment on short notice. I sometimes ask to get wait listed if my appointment is far out. Most often I get called fairly quickly.
Ms Swamp now gets her hair done at the hairdressers house. Just went there today. Paid cash. $85 for a full root treatment. No problem. Find a hairdresser that works out of her home. The hell with the salons.
Corky and Basul have a tenant in their apartment building who did house calls all year and made more money during covid than at her shop.
Let me say this first ( I am reluctant to put this comment here, but also curious! So my curiosity won hence I am asking you this)!!
You said :
“Besides, having to give up financial information to get a F’ing haircut is just crazy.”
What financial information are these pesky salons asking of you apart from a name and a credit card number?!
By asking you this I State:
I am a proponent of using cash, just like you, but if a service provider or a merchant would not accept cash, and I still feel the need to use their services I don’t mind giving them my cc no.
The other issue I would like to point out is, by using a cc you’re more protected financially speaking as ( a credit card provider normally wears the cost of any fraudulent transactions and the onus is on them to protect their products)!
That being said I reiterate that if you’re unconvinced by this and you’re using cash ( on principle), then forgive me and disregard my interjection.
The question is though , how will you fare going forward into a world that is having its ( orgy wars on CASH)?! ??
I think smaller business owners love cash (for obvious reasons). My barbershop only takes cash. No cards and especially no checks.
Larger to corporate business likes the card to get your financial info and it helps keep an eye on the help.
Thats funny because in most people’s eyes, they only want your CC details so they can help themselves to your money.
Better days seem far away.
That’s a big reason I love Apple Pay – pay with credit card, and vendor only sees a one-and-done token – no personal data.
All my cards and most local vendors (including gas stations!) have switched to “touchless chip” (all of which are one-time-only transactions) making it much harder to steal usable card data.
Additionally, my 4 “bankcards” (including 1 ATM/Debit) are at 3 national financial institutions, all of whom provide instant text message confirmation of any use of my cards. Presumably, even smaller banks are now offering this feature.
In San Francisco there is actually a law that says businesses must accept cash. This has not been enforced during the pandemic because at the beginning there was concern that the virus spread via surfaces. I have noticed a couple of places that still refuse to take cash and am wondering when the ordinance will be enforced again.
My state, Idaho, requires merchants to accept cash.
The opportunity cost for a canceled appointment or a no show is much higher now. You can probably still pay cash, but they want a guarantee that you’ll show up. Ask them if they’ll take a cash deposit. They have to eat too.
Petunia, where are these places? My wife hasn’t had this problem anywhere in Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale.
They are not in Florida, where business people are still rational. And they are also not as good as in Florida.
I tried and tried to find a barber that was open to get a haircut. No dice.
Finally gave up and ordered a set of Oster Classic 76 clippers  and a set of attachments. (I’m bald on top anyway, so I just put the number 3 on and buzzed the sides.) Was a lot easier to do than I thought it would be.
Thanks to Wolf for the idea!
 Compared to the Heiniger Icon handpiece and overhead motor I use for sheep shearing it looked like a toy. lol
Friends of mine have been doing that for decades I started having my wife cut my hair last year and it’s perfect or close to it anyway
Real men cut their own hair ?
They are single though.
Make up a credit card number. I doubt they are going to pre-charge auth. They’re probably stressed from people making appointments and abandoning them.
Also, the fraud is on the company not you.
Insightful set of social ethics you got there, Ethan…
I’m sorry for your company’s plight, and that of other landlords. And mad that nobody’s talking enough (other than WS)about the royal shafting you guys are taking at the hands of monomaniacal bureaucrats. They just assume you can handle the financial hit?It’s outrageous and unconscionable. Real estate is uncertain, and it’s cyclical nature should reward in good times, like construction, because bad times always come. Contractors can walk on big losing jobs rather than go broke, landlords can’t, practically speaking. If they were going to bone an entire tier of the real estate business it should have been the banks. Every landlord always has stuff they can or should be working on, and most stick with it or outperform in my experience, until now it’s always been in their best interest. Bankers have evolved to be bailout queens with empty-hand magic tricks. They shouldn’t be allowed to believe that they are special, and i suspect a comeuppance is in the near future. Their role is becoming increasingly insignificant with a Fed-Treasury mutual aggression treaty in the works.
Everyone I know in real estate works harder than I would want to for an uncertain payday. I don’t begrudge them a penny.
Thanks Rick, appreciate that j
“Believing the world would reopen by mid-April,”
I laughed out loud at this – “why would you think that?!?”
South African B.1.351 variant of the virus SARS-CoV-2 has been confirmed in Davis by UC Davis scientists. Israel study suggests Pfizer Vax may not be effective. Deja Vu. Any doubt it will blossom like the the original a year ago? Hopefully less severe with better treatments. Don’t count on crowded airplanes, Malls, restaurants and theaters.
Stop talking science, medicine and reality! A large group of people think everything they don’t like is “Fake”.
Some countries cracked down early, did a great job of contact tracing and have snuffed it out largely.
This is not one of those countries. Too many buffoons……they drag everybody else backwards with them.
They don’t have any intention of ever ending this BS. It will end badly.
I read on the internet Israel wanted something from the vacine company and didn’t get it, so now they dropped the negative news.
Don’t believe the hype.
F the CCP…phase out trade and travel now.
The Sears anchor store in our local mall closed a few months ago. The mall, Westfields, Mongomery Mall , was just renovated a few years ago. Looks like a ghost town now. I wonder who is holding all the bad paper? Someone is losing their shirt. I wonder what they do with all the merchandise in these gigantic stores when they close? Maybe they put it on OVESRSTOCK.COM.
You have to remember, the oligarchs own a lot of this stuff. They collect commercial real estate like some people collect cheap baseball cards. “i’ll just keep it ’til I die” is not unusual.
These people are the ones holding the bad paper:
I see some of it at the thrift stores. They probably make more taking the tax deduction than selling it to wholesalers.
Maybe they don’t own any of it. It is all owned by the vendors of the items. Sears calls em up and says “take all of this crap out a here”.
I am surprised that places like Planet Fitness are still doing well. I am guessing their business model relies on a small percentage of people showing up at any one time i.e. 10 bucks is a cheap price for virtue signalling (“hei I belong to a gym!!”). With people working from home though, I would think quite a few will cancel their membership, but apparently not.
I’ve started boycotting any company that defrauded the PPP loan program. I will not buy any products or service from them. I hope others do the same. If they ever go bankrupt I will celebrate.
How does one find out if a company defrauded the PPP program?
I’ve believe I’ve heard this as a side show on some of Wolf’s posts. Or the Bill Bonner newsletter. Maybe he can have a special post just for this purpose. We should organize and put all these ba$tards out of business.
Some of the names
Ruth’s steak house
Dardin’s Restaurant chain
Wells Fargo – fired 100 bankers
Anyone who stills banks with Wells Fargo is a complete and total idiot. Might as well do your banking at San Quentin.
Wellstones Ghost True dat
What’s so bad about Wells Fargo? They’re HQ’d right in Wolf’s backyard in SF. Can’t be all that bad. I think Wolf banks there.
There’s a certain intestinal fortitude that is missing in most Americans, and it’s the lack of this quality that I despise. Wells Fargo has shown what a despicable criminal organization they are, yet people are too lazy to move on. There are plenty other options. I don’t use any of the big banks. I use a medium sized bank which is so much better than those behemoths.
I can’t think of one major financial organization that hasn’t been charged with crimes.
I’m still banking with Wells Fargo. They are the cleanest shirt on the block. Good managers and polite competent employees. Never had a problem, since they took over my accounts from Wychovia.
So they are a little crooked. They all are.
Thanks for the information. Darden owns Olive Garden, among a half dozen other chains comprising some 1500 restaurants as per Wikipedia. God knows how many employees, from whom they constructively stole money that could have been a help to the little people in a bad time. I’ll spend my money elsewhere, and join you in urging others to do the same, boycotts work and publicly traded companies answer to shareholders. Sadly, my wallet was boycotting Ruth Chris long before I thought to.
Wells Fargo the worst of the worst. Agree with Wellstone’s Ghost.
If you don’t know what’s wrong with WF, you haven’t been paying attention the last ten years.
No bailouts for landlords. As for income landlords have lost due to public- sector mandates, they are off the hook for that same amount in property taxes due. The public sector eats the loss. No, police and fire and such will not be diminished. Scare tactics will not be employed. City council members will enjoy a reduction in pay. Public pension contributions will take a haircut. The public sector will share in the pain.
I stopped buying anything from some companies for other reasons than just defrauding the PPP program. Illegal monopolistic practices are another reason. This list is getting longer every day. My philosophy is if I don’t absolutely need their product or service like Verizon or Comcast then I am not buying anything from them.
Lets start with all of Jeff Bezos companies
I’m done with all three of them. I wouldn’t even buy any book from Amazon. They also hacked my credit card twice in the last two years, and charging me for services never asked for. They are a fascist organization.
Don’t forget to turn off your water and electric since you don’t have a choice in who provides those!
I was in a mom & pop deli in the DC Swamp and tried to get a quick lunch before going on my next assignment. After completing the order I pulled out some of Janet Yellons/ Jerome Powells depreciating dollars to pay for the meal. The dude behind the counter then told me they don’t take cash. Only credit or debit cards. After having my credit card hacked 5 times in one year I decided it wasn’t worth it. I told them to have the meal for themselves and walked out.
Now I bring my own lunch every time I go on a field assignment. This will be the new norm, I’m afraid.
Now you’ve done it! That’s short-order terrorism. They’ll have to add you to the “no fry” list. “Please place your brown bag on the counter and take two steps back.”
Yep, “buh-bye.” I’d do the same thing. I pay cash for everything in person. I’m one of those old school types. Have been doing it for 15 years now. I do use the card for the fuel pump so I don’t have to walk in and out.
You see more and more, the purchase of goods & services are not being done or accepting cash, The Nats baseball stadium has now gone cashless. Buying tickets and concessions all have to be done via iPhone. Many parking meters are cashless. Some food delis are going cashless. Whole Foods now has only one line for cash. So the fake Yellen/Powel dollars are starting to become unwanted at many venues.
Some people like this. I don’t for many reasons. One is that my credit card has been hacked 5 times in one year and I hardly use it. It was hacked while the card was sitting in my den file where I keep important items. Some a$shole at BOA upped my limit from 1K to 5K without my authority and the crook that had my credit card info spent the entire 5K while I was sleeping.
Also paying cash keeps spending under control. I only use a credit card when I have to. Like renting a car, reserving a hotel etc., buying gas at the pump.
How is Wolf doing on his short?
Got lucky with Covid but not so this time around.
The Fed = the market
All due respect SOS2, who gives a rat’s ass? I mean really, why would anyone care? What’s in it for you? Place your own bet, if you haven’t already, and keep quiet about it.
Moderna is a green shoot in Boston. They are hiring 100s of college educated folks in every field, and they are paying them well. This is the basic strength under the Metro Boston housing boom, both rental and owner occupied.
Wages are not underpinning the housing bubble. Quit shilling, Socal Shill Boy.
Is Boston Dynamics worth a punt? I am trying to figure out of it is another Tesla or if it’s the real deal. Anyone got any ideas? Their robot dog, Spot, has really surprised this cynic. It’s scary in a Skynet kind of way, but Spot is also quite adept at getting around. He will definitely be of value to some. Will it be enough to make a profitable investment or is interest in Boston Dynamics just a flash in the pan?
I’ve been tracking this one. Boston Dynamics has neat technology and no clue whatsoever on how to make money.
The original Boston Dynamics was an MIT spinoff that was purchased by Google and to that point had virtually nothing in product sales, let alone a profit. Income mostly came from DoD R&D projects.
Google played with it for a few years and then sold it off to Softbank where it became Softbank Robotics. Three years later, Softbank sold it off to Hyundai Motors who resumed using the Boston Dynamics name.
As an investment, it meets the classic definition of how to make a small fortune: Start with a large fortune.
1) We don’t know what to do after 1 year of rent delays.
2) We don’t know what to do, because we lost our WFH job.
3) After piling debt on student loans, Tesla tires, $1,000 ski trip/ day
and a fresh mortgage, we have no choice but go BK.
Sounds like your average millennial. Apologies to responsible millennials, but I just don’t see many of them. What I do see are $1,000 truck notes and other outrageous behaviors.
1) RE is banks bank largest assets.
2) JP Promote growth and higher CPI. John McNellis indicate collapse.
3) The largest banks report this week.
4) They might show a smashing profit.
5) JPM jumped first and reached DM 9 and DM 13, but BAC got a hanging man at the top, on DM 9, far from DM 13.
6) Last week PNC failed on DM 9, but might get DM 13 this week.
7) Silver is mostly a byproduct of copper mines or other metals miners. Gold start shining again.
8) Landlords eat dirt, but the banks are rising high above a red flatbed loud
and the front end of the cloud is fat, green and far away.
9) This stuff is waiting for correct. It might be too late for those who are fully committed to the current trend and the headlines bs.
Our local Mom & Pop second-run theatre is doing fine. They bought a few buckets of reflective paint, painted the outside wall of their theatre, dropped a connex in the parking lot with projectors inside and opened as a Drive In. Invited a bunch of food trucks to feed folks, and everyone’s happy. It’s thinking like this that keeps you from going out of business. Adapt and THRIVE.
I LOVE THIS STORY! thank you…. thank you thank you so much.
Found this part interesting, “Gyms were padlocked last year, many closed forever; the survivors are reopening now. Cost—a common thread differentiating retail’s winners and losers—is a big factor with gyms.”
Why? Because the gym I use was only closed last year from end of March to the end of May. Yep, only two months and when they reopened first week of June, no masks and no social distancing. How is that possible? The gym is located on USAF base and only active service personal and contractors have access. But, it begs the question what do they know about covid that they only closed for 2 months then reopen no restrictions….
They find physical fit personnel more important than a few death.
Austin TX fly east. The burning spy ship and a new black-out in the east
might fly west, this week.
Micheal Engel = The Man in the High Castle
(replying to you below because i leaked or exploded…)
(Dear Mr Wolf,
i know this isn’t very “after hours kitten”, as i usually wait a few days after a post is up, but i’m citing “after hours” request with a shrug, meaning i’ll accept defeat if this is culled. / i’ve been wanting to write all week but have been mad busy and i pulled the zip tie and this came out but it might not be insane as it’s been in my head all week and what’s left after a few days usually isn’t so horrid as what comes out in my daily blurts. i’m finally in a really really good “i got this” place and i wanna balance out the blues i know are out there because life is like trying to run in sea weed underwater nowadays)
Aqius: yup. this place is lousy with magicians. it’s like when i first moved to San Francisco and everyone was an accomplished artist of some sort, so much so that it became passe for a SECOND.
can’t believe how ungrateful and too-cool we were. now we’d trade in our grandma’s for belief in santa claus again. anywhere.
that’s why i leak and gush every once in awhile.
Petunia, i’m working on a response to your non-response to my question about why women don’t know what breast darts are for or why we’ll be wearing leggings for the next 100 years.
i’m working on bringing back old people in leather pants. no lie. it’s how this “earring left on my local leather man’s night table so he has to call me back” is working out.
leather pants are the perfect opposite to this stenchy microfiber existence we’re trapped in.
leather: unlined. hand-washable. i already envisioned getting Wolf in a pair, especially now that he’s merging is Bartleby/James Bond personas into one of his own making. he’s walking up to the color Fuschia and blowing it apart into the ultraviolet colors only hummingbirds and Petunia can see.
and Petunia, i’m SO working on artistic one-of-a-kind things ALSO because yes, materials are going up exponentially, and whenever i double down on figuring out what “you can imprison my body but you cannot imprison my soul” really means in The Real On the Low at This Time in Our History.
so how do we use what we have? makes us more creative like the spray painted drive in above.
this got long. i haven’t been writing much. i’ve been DOING finally.
upping the gym, wearing knee wraps and my squats finally got up to the 35 plates. the yellow ones i think. yellow used to seem so far away like ultra violet secrets of Michael Engel used to seem. they clearer and clearer the more we crash head smack into Reality.
Petunia, sorry i went off.
i’ll be back. i told you the most, though. got you on the art. working angles. dancing out at 24th/potrero on saturday afternoons now. at least for the rest of april.
point is i’m quiet but i’m taking mad notes on what you say now. for real.
you’re a gift. so a Sister. thank you for existing, Petunia. your cynicism is drenched in romance and flip flops with rhinestones and keeps me holding on even as i Let Go.
part of the Stages of Acceptance: when you abandon all hope, you can finally become optimistic and energized again. who knew? everything’s upside down; even what actually WORKS.
i saw 6 blocks of young old all color people waiting in line for the vaccine.
as a leo i took it as god’s personal reminder that I AM DIFFERENT AND I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DIFFERENT AND WHAT CONSTITUTES THE GOOD LIFE AND SUCCESS FOR ME IS AT ODDS WITH EVERYONE ELSE AND IT ALWAYS HAS BEEN NO MATTER IF I SOLD X AMOUNT OF BOOKS OR NOT… I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN NORMAL PEOPLES’ DANCING CLOWN.
that’s boring. so the 6+ blocks of hordes of masked people freed me from trying to court them and fluff up any more of their dreams/my nightmares.
also, Wolf– Corky and Basul just finished a self-published/print-on-demand book of photographs of their walks in the city of SF from this past year and you were among the first group of people they decided to print one up for.
they read you now, too, and respect you– because the first batch like that, is like a Cuban cigar after the birth of a baby. i’m excited because THIS is how our own little new San Francisco Artistic Underground is apparently burgeoning.
sorry to hijack your column, Mr McNellis. i love your writing, too. just the facts, ma’am with a twinkle and a gentle bite.
anyhow, Petunia: OUR adventures are just beginning, too. i was gonna go more in depth but that was enough hijacking.
i don’t wanna lurk and hold out on burgeoning ANYTHING in case anyone’s waiting for some other freak to venture into the water first.
we artists have …or are going to have to wrangle for our collective souls, back. you money people think someone else in money always runs things.
i keep remembering it’s all so silly.
it doesn’t take very much at all to start something interesting. i’m working on creating secrets in full view.
like me dancing at 24/potrero is actually me courting and being courted one-on-one on the low out in public. only accomplished leos, or Petunia, will understand.
if you’ve ever seen Love in the Bronx play out ..heck, if you’ve ever seen La Lupe merely TALK, you know there’s another LEVEL somewhere. she used cocaine to calm DOWN.
secrets. / the internet cannot capture everything or much of anything. especially me.
where’s James? / he’s here. we love differently. we have to.
off for now. but Petunia.. .i’m working your notes.
Unlined Leather Pants. one pair. one year. i aim to kill leggings and bring back leather pants for people over 50. i’m done with the young. i never said i wanted to EAT them. i’m done with them. they are invisible and uninteresting.
i’m investing in old people now. people older than me, so i have someone to talk to.
have you ever tried to have a conversation with anyone under 55? it’s exhausting trying to feign eye contact since you can’t read their lips or understand what they’re saying.
so there i am. just checking in. doing my best to bring real fuck you art back. screaming like Susan Hayward: I WANT TO LIVE. that’s the movie that taught me to say “no dice” because i wanted to channel her in the illegal gambling den with that push up bra.
can’t you feel it? or them? all pokey like: GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING!
p.s. young people make leather pants uncool like diapers. that’s why older people. the only sexy people left. really. i’m falling in love with a man in his 60s and 70s wouldn’t even be too old. hella NO. they know how to do things like weld and use lathes. use things like scissors in a pinch. younger folks think all those are obscure computer programs.
no. you cannot imprison my soul in this stuff.
I’d love to see Corky’s and Basul’s book.
Corky said he’s getting the first shipment around April 20th, so he’ll send you one then.
Thank you for the “view on the ground”.
The traditional brick and mortar retailers may be mismanaged, but I would point out that their customer demographics are very different than Ross, TJ Maxx and what not.
IMO – what’s happening is that Amazon and online is creaming off the population that can afford to buy stuff for fashion or convenience. These people prove it by paying the now $150 a year for their “free” delivery.
The services mentioned – nail salons and what not – are a good example: I don’t see a lot of poor people doing that relative to their much wealthier counterparts.