Shortages in Charts: New & Used Vehicle Inventories Collapsed, Supply at Clothing Stores Gets Tight, Food Stores Near Normal

Over-stimulated demand, tangled supply chains: shortages for some, plenty of supply for others.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

The historic stimulus from $5 trillion in government deficit-spending and from $4 trillion in Fed money-printing within a 16 month period resulted in a historic spike in consumer spending on goods. When the demand shock hit retailers and other companies, they were suddenly confronted with a multi-layered supply shock – after decades of corporate efforts to tighten “lean inventory” strategies ever further, all the way up the supply chain. And there was no buffer for the disruptions.

Inventories at auto dealers, which in normal times account for about 36% of total retail inventories, have evaporated since the spring of 2020, following production halts at automakers, first due to covid, then due to the semiconductor shortage.

The inventory-sales ratio at new and used vehicle dealers and parts dealers dropped to a historic low of 1.15 in April, the lowest in the data going back to 1992, and has roughly stayed there through June, according to data by the Census Bureau on Tuesday. A ratio of 1.0 means the retailer has enough goods on hand for 30 days at the current rate of sales. A ratio of 2.0 means the retailer has 60 days’ supply. For auto dealers, 60 days’ supply is considered healthy. In June, auto dealers had roughly 34 days of supply for the third month in a row:

Over the past two decades, the number of vehicles in inventory, though varying wildly, has stayed in the same range as unit sales have stagnated over the period. But much higher costs per unit led to much higher inventories in dollar terms. For example, the price of the F-150 XLT pickup truck rose 80% from the 2000 model year ($19,410) to the 2021 model year ($35,050), according to the WOLF STREET Pickup Truck and Car Price Index.

But so far this year through June, despite more costly vehicles in inventory, inventories in dollar terms collapsed to $152.9 billion, where they’d first been in 2004:

What kept the inventory-sales ratio (first chart) from plunging even further was a sharp drop in vehicle unit sales in June as dealers had run short on vehicles to sell, and customers, frustrated by lack of choice and by sky-high prices, started walking away, a process that accelerated in July.

Inventories at food and beverage stores took a heavy hit during the empty-shelves phase in March and April 2020 but have now recovered, even as sales at these stores remain historically high, given the shift of consumption from commercial buildings to the home, powered by working-from-home or not working at all. In dollar-terms, inventories hit a new high in March and roughly stayed there through June, at $54.1 billion.

Because the increase in sales compared to the era before the pandemic, the inventory-sales ratio, at 0.72, has remained somewhat below the multi-year range before the pandemic:

Inventories at building materials and garden supply stores (from Home Depot to neighborhood hardware stores) plunged briefly in March through May 2020, as sales skyrocketed. But inventories soon caught up and then shot from record to record, hitting $67.2 billion in June, up 18% from June 2019.

Strong sales at these stores caused the inventory-sales ratio to remain lower than in the pre-pandemic years, but higher than during the housing boom before 2005. Note how sales at these stores surged during housing booms and declined during the last housing bust.

In June, at 1.72, the ratio was back at February and March 2020 levels, and back where it had been in May 2006, as the housing bubble had just started to unravel:

Inventories at clothing and accessory stores had been at a record $55 billion in March 2020, just as the lockdowns were implemented, which caused sales at these stores to collapse, which caused the inventory-sales ratio to spike to 19 months’ supply. When sales resumed, the ratio came back into balance as inventories in dollar terms dropped through the summer 2020.

But earlier this year, as sales spiked to record levels, supply chains couldn’t catch up, and the inventory-sales ratio plunged to record low levels, in June at 1.83:

At general merchandise stores – including Walmart and Costco – inventories in dollar terms plunged during the empty-shelves spring in 2020 but then recovered. In June, at $84.2 billion, it was back where it had been before the pandemic. These stores continue to benefit from consumption having shifted to households due to working from home and not working at all, and the inventory-sales ratio remains near record lows.

Note the long-term trend: Lean inventories strategies have over the past 20 years reduced supply from 60 days in 2000 to less than 40 days:

Overall inventories at all retailers in June remained roughly at $600 billion, first seen in 2016. This was up by only 3.6% from the pandemic low a year ago.

In April, May, and June, the inventory-sales ratio of around 1.08 – or about 33 days’ supply – was at the lowest point in the data going back to 1992. In the years before the pandemic, the overall ratio was around 1.5, providing 45 days of supply. You can see the dominating weight of auto-dealer inventories in overall retail inventories:

If consumer spending shifts further from goods (retail) to services, it further whittles down the historic spike in retail sales, which would help bring supply at retailers closer to the averages of the past few years. But there are still numerous supply chain issues, from semiconductor shortages to shipping and transportation nightmares across the globe, that dog some retail segments, such as auto dealers, and they will continue to struggle to build their inventories.

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  112 comments for “Shortages in Charts: New & Used Vehicle Inventories Collapsed, Supply at Clothing Stores Gets Tight, Food Stores Near Normal

  1. qt says:

    Look at “Inventories at clothing and accessory stores”. Now that is the WTF moment. I guess people don’t like to buy clothing online.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      People buy lots of clothing online. Online clothing sales is one of the fastest growing sectors. Americans buy a huge amount of clothes in total, and that sector has seen solid growth, but that growth was online. There was a spike in clothing sales at brick-and-mortar stores this year, but it only made up for the huge hole last year. The 12-month total in brick-and-mortar clothing sales has been flat since 2017.

      • Educated but Poor Millennial says:

        Its big mistake, I have done it and will never do again.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Works fine for my standardized body and long arms. Even shoes, no problem. Have been doing it for years. I haven’t had to return anything yet. I’ll never ever go back inside a brick-and-mortar clothing store.

    • David Hall says:

      I have a golf shirt I like. I looked up the shirt brand online and found color patterns I liked. They delivered one to me in my size.

      If I go to the brick and mortar store I might see a shirt I like, but not always in my size.

      Online stores may have a higher inventory turnover ratio, thus they may not keep as much excess inventory.

      • roddy6667 says:

        Brick and mortars do not have a “back room” any more. There is no excess inventory. Retail space is too expensive. There is no distribution center where the store orders from. They use a “push” system. Based on what is selling now and what sold in the past, computers (and sometimes humans) push inventory to the stores. Distribution centers are cross-dock facilities. Goods come in one side of the building and are sorted and shipped to the stores from the other side. Merchandise is inside the building less than two days.
        Online sales can be located in a dingy warehouse in a bad part of town. They can have more inventory because their cost is much less.
        I have noticed, especially with footwear, that online retailers have more options for me, with my size 13 gunboats.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Huge backroom including drive-in (for pallet jacks and forklifts) refrigerator at big grocery stores. Lots of stuff gets unloaded off the truck by pallet, gets stacked in the back, and then is taken to the front to restock in smaller quantities throughout the day.

          Even Costco has a back part that you can actually see from the inside of the store.

          But as you pointed out, merchandise moves very quickly, and doesn’t spend much time in the back.

  2. Cobalt Programmer says:

    1. Not qualified to answer about auto stores or cars. I am seeing newer drivers in newer cars because, the public transit is down. May be the big three are plotting against the public transit. Again…Anyone who reply about their 35 year old truck will be sent a “I used to be cool” sticker.
    2. Food. Half and Half are at a historic low at the supermarkets. The empty shelves in 2020 were due to panic buying not because everyone started eating a lot. Actually, people also started cooking at home. The restaurants were also closed or closed early at that time.
    3. Garden and Building materials. Home sales slowed down. Some of you might disagree though.
    4. supply at clothing stores are tight…True. All those XXL swimsuits were sold off…Girl…You ain’t fooling no body with those.

    • Trucker guy says:

      “Again…Anyone who reply about their 35 year old truck will be sent a “I used to be cool” sticker.”

      Dear God imagine the horror of not impressing random people in traffic with your Honda civic… That is a 2021 model and not some old model. Wolf said in the post above Americans buy huge amounts of clothes. I can’t remember the last time I bought any clothes. Guess I’m not cool for that either. Or a true red blooded American consumer.

      • Paulo says:

        Clothing etc.

        I found the exact brands and sizes that I like of runners, walking boots, jeans, and tees. Found good suppliers over the years. When I need an infusion the new stuff goes into the ‘good’ drawer and the old stuff gets the ‘work drawer’. Shoes and boots find their way to a new life working and in the garden. How wonderful it is not to have to go to the store and see they are out of what I wanted.

        Plus, it’s a cheaper experience. There are often ‘free shipping’ events. It also saves me from driving to town.

        Thank you online offerings and Canada Post. Thank you.

      • NBay says:

        I remember my mom saying, “you are almost 30 years old. Are you going to wear t-shirts and jeans the rest of your life?” The answer was/is “yes”. But I DO remember the last time I bought T-shirts. Just after the GFC the fast gas was selling them 4 for $10 and then 3 for $10. They didn’t always have large, and I wanted some color variety (my fashion statement) so I bought maybe 20. Have grades of them. And discovered cheap Dickies jeans, also graded, along with NB Postal Carrier shoes which I used uniform allowance (Maint) and some cash to load up on. Still have 2 new pairs of Army boots, at only $8/pr I bought a LOT and shipped them home…also ran grades ala Paulo.
        As far as 35 year old PUs go, the kids LOVE 85-95 Toyotas and Nissans and trick them out, from hydraulics low to rock crawler high. TONS OF COOL.
        I trashed my 70K used 94 Nissan 4wd from hauling boards/cement up washboard roads and finally got a 2012 Frontier 4wd with 5K mi…20K less trade-in…a loss leader…I was headed for Toyota place when I spotted it.
        Like everyone else, I think I got a good deal. Have never known ANYONE to say otherwise. Dealers must all be getting screwed left and right, yes?

        • NBay says:

          94 Nissan almost made it to 200K, but on summer washboard road every time a tire unloads and spins up it’s like a drive train hammer blow when it bites..shale road looks like 2 ft ocean waves in places…..just didn’t want anyone to think I killed it at 70K…damn good truck…legendary 3.0VQ….saw Pathfinders with 400K running fine, which is why I bought it.

    • Kenn says:

      Can I get a “I used to be cool” sticker for my 16 year old minivan? Or it that in the “never cool” category?
      (You know you were asking for these responses, Cobalt P.)

      • Robert Hughes says:

        Or “Old is Cool”, both my age and vehicles. Where can I get my sticker.

        3 SUV’s, 20, 14 and 10 years old , all run excellent. No depreciation anymore, in fact more appreciation then ever expected. Who else fits in this category?

  3. Random guy 62 says:

    We just got hit with our first production-stopping stock-out of a key component today. Luckily it only affects about 20% of sales for 1-2 months. It’s a story of high demand meets low supply and quickly extended lead times. Our suppliers for the item are experiencing similar issues down the line. And the suppliers of their suppliers…same story.

    It is looking likely that these issues will persist well into 2022. Several vendors are already booking 4x the usual lead time in advance. Much of it seems like panic buying to me. No one wants to be left out on their supplies so they’re ordering a little extra.

    I hate to say this, because recessions hurt, but we need an economic slowdown to get things back to normal and to cool inflation. Otherwise the rising prices and shortages might persist for a while.

    Those pesky recession are illegal now though

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Thanks for the insight! I love how the comments here are a WolfStreet Book (like the Fed’s Beige Book), where people share what they see happening locally.

      I’m in research with a connection to some high tech light manufacturing. We have been battling long lead times on a key input material for the past year, with a few production delays but no shutdowns.

      On the home front, my kids go through sports shoes every few months and it’s getting harder and harder to find replacements that they like (colorful).

      I am also hearing anecdotally that some schools and universities badly underestimated how many students would be bringing COVID with them when they returned to campus this month. The complacency of the vaccinated is running headlong into the reality of Delta’s 3x higher infectiousness. Even if the cases are milder on average, it’s disruptive to the students and the schools.

      • Cem says:

        “ The complacency of the vaccinated “

        What in the double speak does that even mean?

        Using your words, if more people had been complacent, maybe we wouldn’t have even had the delta variant in America.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          Complacency b/c people who are vaccinated think they’re immune, or at least at much lower risk, when the reality may be quite different, especially since the vaccine’s efficacy fades over time.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          What I’m seeing is that people who are vaccinated, myself included, have gotten very complacent about their COVID risk.

          From other vaccines we tend to think “vaccine = 100% protection”, but the COVID vaccine doesn’t work that way.

          Delta is breaking through the vaccine protection. Even schools with thoroughly vaccinated student bodies are being forced to change plans after testing the students coming back to campus and finding much higher levels of infection than were present last year without the vaccine.

          Reality shows large ongoing surges in both infections and mortality in many nations and US states including particularly Texas and Florida. (California data shows a similar surge in cases, but for some reason the mortality isn’t tracking up yet… then again, there’s an election in a month.)

          UK data in particular indicates that the vaccine used there is presently of little benefit in reducing infection or hospitalization, though so far it’s helping with mortality rates.

          Like Afghanistan and the Fed’s take on the economy, I don’t think we really understand what’s going on as well as policymakers think (or pretend?) that we do.

      • The Count says:

        Up here in Washington state, my boss pointed out two assembly lines that are stalled due to a lack of chips for the controls in the products.

        Gives us time to work on the (non-people replacing) automation though.

      • Harrold says:

        Schools did not underestimate, they were hamstringed by politicians dictating their policies for handling the pandemic.

    • kam says:

      Key parts in hydraulics, from U.S. manufacturers, hard to source. Sometimes 4 months lead times. Offshore product ? All junk and unsafe at high pressures.

      The Lumber Market? Still falling. I am hearing stud prices (at the Mill) have dropped to $247/Mbf, which is $1.38 per stud, USD.

      • Auldyin says:

        @K
        “All junk and unsafe at high pressures.”
        Are there no safety standards for for critical components in USA? Or is the junk black market?

        • kam says:

          Like all Chinese standards, they will replace it with the same poor standards.
          The USA, like most Western countries, have turned a blind eye to once, good, proud standards.

  4. OutWest says:

    Somehow, I don’t think this pandemic thingy is over with just yet.

    Your data is consistent with what I experience on a daily basis and I have a feeling that inventories and prices will get worse in the short term.

    I only buy necessities.

    • Kent says:

      Many necessities are available used, on Craigslist, at very cheap prices, even free sometimes. The key is to constantly keep an eye out, then categorize and store.

      Haven’t bought a nail, screw, hardware, clothing, lumber, wire etc in years and go through a lot of it.
      Furnished and entire mother in law rental with free stuff, down to the carpet, beds, stove, fridge etc.
      You can trade free stuff for things you need or sell it really cheap at a price so low you know it will go.

      Example, people installing a deck need a case of screws, end up with 1/3 of case left over, sell it for the equivalent of 1/10th the price of the case, or less.

      Another thing, you can trade for an IOU with a friend you trust who will replace what you borrow or vice versa. Example; traded a case of motor oil to friend who needed to change his. When I need oil, he will replace it, probably with stuff he bought for next to nothing.

  5. Seneca’s Cliff says:

    It makes you wonder, what if we had this same pandemic back in 1976, would we have had all these problems? I don’t think so.

  6. C Hughes says:

    I wonder what happens when you outs source everything to china and the world goes pete tong ? let see

  7. Depth Charge says:

    I hate Larry Summers, but he nailed it way before all of this happened. He said they were risking overheating the economy with all of the stimulus, and that’s exactly what they did. It was exceptionally nearsighted, irresponsible and reckless.

    The way to do it was to do a little bit of stimulus, look for results, a little more, look for results, a little more if needed, etc. Instead, trollfaced Yellen and her “go big” nonsense, with Weimar Boy Powell at the printing press, dumped a zephyr of fuel on a raging inferno.

    • RightNYer says:

      I actually took a liking to Larry Summers after he made his now infamous comment about women’s brains being different for science.

      But I agree with your point. I can almost see the rationale for the stimulus back in March of 2020, when they thought that people would spend the extra money to keep businesses alive, but it turns out that people just used it to splurge on durable goods from large multinationals. Once they saw actual behavior, doing it again in December, and then again in March of 2021, was beneath contempt.

      • gametv says:

        great point.

        but if anyone thinks this was not intentional, they dont understand what is happening.

        the billionaire class is enriching itself.

        we had a choice early in the pandemic. we could either shut down all international traffic and prevent the virus from reaching our shores, thereby keeping all our local communities and businesses open, or we could allow the upper class to continue to travel between countries and thereby close down all the local communities.

        of course, our government has made the decision to side with the upper class/billionaires/multinationals.

        i can guarantee you that if the pandemic had brought more multinationals to their knees, there would have been swift action.

        the local business person and his local employees are considered “fly-over” territory by the elite Washington DC crowd. they have no voice. they have no lobbyists.

        what if we had used the New Zealand approach and shut all air traffic early and required any entrant to spend several weeks in quarantine, and then kept open all the local economic activity. no need for masks, no need for shutdowns. local economies stay strong and people continue to work.

        there is/was a choice.

        our government is the core problem of the united states and if we dont improve it, we risk falling far behind china. notice that china’s economy is back to normal and they require quarantine of anyone coming into china.

    • Mike R. says:

      “They” want/need general inflation to reduce the huge debt load in our society. Prior attempts have led to poor “results”.

      Powell and Yellen decided to not let a good crisis (pandemic) go to waste and juiced the economy big time as we came out of the slowdown. Their theory (proved correct) was that pent up demand would push prices up if money was put in people’s hands. And they had/have Uncle Joe and the Democratic Congress that have been trying to help the “little people” get a step up in this grossly unfair economy.

      So the inflation we got is what they had hoped for. Really, in their view, the more the better (realizing they believe correctly that hyperinflation is really not a valid concern). It’s a one shot inflation injection; prices are already receding to some degree but since prices are “sticky”, they will likely not go down to levels prior to COVID. A new higher plateau will have been achieved.

      • Depth Charge says:

        “And they had/have Uncle Joe and the Democratic Congress that have been trying to help the “little people” get a step up in this grossly unfair economy…So the inflation we got is what they had hoped for.”

        Haha, whaaaaaat? This makes absolutely ZERO sense. Inflation hurts the “little people.” Making their lives more expensive under the guise of “helping” them would be laughable if it weren’t so diabolical. “C’mon, man.”

      • Petunia says:

        MR & DC,

        Congress and the fed gave most of the stimulus money to big businesses and institutions, that’s where you see the asset inflation, or any inflation.

        The stimulus that went to the general population was a drop in the bucket compared to what the big guys got, that’s why the fed can’t get inflation to spike higher.

        You give a billionaire another billion and they buy another jet or a bigger boat, then invest the rest. You give a working mom another thousand and her kids get new sneakers and some video games. These two scenarios don’t produce the same velocity in the money supply.

    • otishertz says:

      Overstimulating the economy to fill the crater they created with money has brought so much demand forward that the inevitable reversal of this trend will be stupendous, particularly deflation in durable goods as demand drops off. That is, if inflation is not larger than the coming drop in demand. Maybe that’s the plan.

      I think our leaders have totally screwed the pooch on this one. They will all say they had no choice and no one could have foreseen the consequences of their actions when the economy comes completely unraveled.

      • cas127 says:

        “I think our leaders have totally screwed the pooch on this one.”

        It is the rare pooch that has gone unscrewed by DC over the last 50 to 70 years.

    • They learned from 2002 and 2008. Timid intervention results in a bear market in stocks.

      But right now, stimulus is wearing off and interventions are coming to an end. This is the time the Fed needs to aggressively ramp up QE, and yet they’re talking about tapering.

      They knew a year ago that they had stimulated too much and needed to cut back, but the fear was that even a hint of tapering would crash markets. The market only wants to hear about more stimulus and more QE, so the obvious solution was to announce one year ago that QE would be stopped immediately, but that they would gradually increase the pace of asset purchases going forward. That way, they might have been able to create a more sustainable recovery.

      The unemployment bonuses, rent moratoriums, forbearance programs, etc haven’t even rolled off yet and various commodities already look like they’re crashing. Now that they’ve made the mistake of doing too much fiscal stimulus, is there even any way to withdraw it gracefully?

      • Depth Charge says:

        “But right now, stimulus is wearing off and interventions are coming to an end. This is the time the Fed needs to aggressively ramp up QE, and yet they’re talking about tapering.”

        But the national debt of roughly $30 TRILLION remains, as does the FED’s more than $8 TRILLION balance sheet. “Time to ramp up QE?” Lay off the sauce, man, you’re hurting yourself.

        • RightNYer says:

          And of the $6 trillion from the last year, we have very little to show for it. Most of it is in the form of Chinese made splurges that will be in landfills in a few years.

        • Kent says:

          Meanwhile, the interest is compounding.

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        Fed can talk about tapering b/c Congress is still pedal-to-the-metal with deficit-boosting WTF pork bills out the wazoo.

        It’s sort of a good cop, bad cop routine in DC.

    • Masked Ghost says:

      Maybe this time around, the plan was to give stimulus to the poors so they could pay their rent/mortgage/credit cards? Or in other words, just another, different, way of bailing out the banks and big corps ?

      • Masked Ghost says:

        Drat. No edit feature.

        I don’t think the government/Fed figured that the Poors would go on a shopping spree with the stimmies.

        Next time, there will probably be no rent or mortgage moratoriums.

    • Auldyin says:

      @DC
      You’re assuming the World is rational.
      The markets are so neurotic that the Fed has to be aggressively pro-active in responding to even minor future concerns, otherwise a market crash is imminent.
      I lost 2% of my net worth today because some wassock said that tapering might be brought forward by a month.
      “Nuts” to use Streetspeak.

  8. Danlxyz says:

    It’s not surprising that when you shut down nonessential production for a year, then inventories will go down. I’m surprised GDP didn’t crater.

    • RightNYer says:

      Non-essential production wasn’t shut down for a whole year, it was for a few months.

      But GDP didn’t crater only because GDP counts government spending. So the 5% of GDP that people didn’t spend at restaurants and travel was more than made up for with the splurging on durable goods with the helicopter money.

      • Ron says:

        China has been fleecing America for 20 years almost everything I buy from that country is junk had a friend to do a project in China 500 workers he said in America it would have been 40 all fake don’t invest there strangle them don’t buy there inferior products

        • Swamp Creature says:

          Every radio and electronic gadget I bought that was made in China has broke. I filled two trash cans with all this crap.

        • twinkytwonk says:

          i used to manufacturer wood turning equipment and even as far back as 91/92 the chinese were copying our products. We knew this because we would get returns where the1 inch steel jaws had broken in two. Upon inspection the steel was full of blow holes and not the sort of thing you would want spinning at 2000 rpm.

          In the mid nineties even steel billets from uk suppliers (which they had got from china) had the same shit quality.

  9. historicus says:

    Golf clubs…..
    much of which the components are made in China…

    shortages galore.
    Empty racks at golf shops…no grips
    How long is “transitory”?

    • Xavier Caveat says:

      Aren’t Republicans most oft what one thinks of when it comes to golf clubs, no shortage there.

    • otishertz says:

      The horror!

    • Anthony A. says:

      Our golf stores are jam packed with everything…….grips, clubs, balls, clothing…you name it. I don’t know where you are shopping.

    • Swamp Creature says:

      I’ve got a set of clubs all “Made in USA” Ha HA

  10. Mendocino Coast says:

    Obviously the Fed and failed Government intervention is the cause for this long list of problem’s as can be clearly seen by Wolf’s Great posts. As I see it the Rich get Richer and the poor get poorer simple as that . The suffering continues :
    I Think Evan a far inexperienced President like AOC could do a better Job and give us back our country as it once was .
    Now we can bring the Afghanistan People here here to seek Refuge.

  11. CJH says:

    I’m smelling monopoly here. So anti-trust enforcement is required Anecdote. Friend who works in the steel business claims steel mfg corps have shut down production lines to create shortages and raise prices. We haven’t enforced anti-trust laws since President Reagan took over and blamed the govt for all problems.

    • random guy 62 says:

      Yes the increases they are bringing are starting to feel ridiculous. My understanding is that we have allowed steel producers to consolidate to the point of now being a duopoly in the USA. While prices have spiked globally, USA increases have massively outpaced the rest of the world.

      In their defense, it is a highly capital intensive business, and these guys are typically running near full capacity, so they can’t just poop out another 50% more material when everyone goes on a collective buying spree.

      We are paying about 2.5x for steel compared to normal times. It is ultimately making us horribly uncompetitive with our foreign competition for our products.

      I have a feeling this wild demand is going to evaporate almost overnight in a few months, and it’s going to be painful. That happened last time commodities spiked back in ’08, and this time they’re going higher.

      That might just be the perma-bear in me though.

      • p coyle says:

        maybe we will get those final 600 beans the current resident promised and failed to deliver. it will juice the economy for a month or two and distract from, well, everything else.

  12. cas127 says:

    Wolf,

    Thanks for the invt to sales charts, they are likely important (see below) and I have probably paid too little attention to them before.

    They are important because they likely provide leading-indicator like insight into when Fed print driven inflation might really, really start biting consumers in the ass.

    Once supply gets disrupted (by inflationary uncertainty/chaos if nothing else), then inflation can get *really* ugly – even small excess inventory tends to keep prices stable…but a tiny shortfall can send them soaring on price insensitive panic buying.

    • Petunia says:

      I follow a bunch of women who spend way to much money on luxury goods and show off on the internet. They are mostly upper middle class or maybe heavily in debt lovers of fashion. In the past year, most have been cutting back on designer purchases due to continual price increases. Some have been selling older items to buy newer items. A few have even officially stopped buying, because they no longer perceive value in the purchases.

      They all see no reason for the price increases, other than to make up for the loss of sales volume, due to the shutdowns. The few that have backed away feel they are being preyed upon by the brands they have long supported.

      If you think people will keep buying xyz at any price, you are mistaken. People buy when they perceive value, regardless of their income levels.

      • Depth Charge says:

        I have foregone 2 big ticket purchases this year because of what I consider price gouging. I will not forget, either, and when it comes time to purchase when prices come back down to reality, I will remind the dealers of what they did.

  13. MiTurn says:

    I don’t often enter general-merchandise stores to shop. That’s my wife’s domain. I haunt the auto parts, hardware, and building supply stores. But when I do go to, say, Walmart, every so often with the wife, I still can’t get over the sight of empty shelves. Totally foreign to my experience as a 60-something.

    I don’t know if these supply issues are getting better or worse, but vast expanses of empty or thinly-stocked white shelving reminds me of images of communist Eastern Europe back when the Soviets were still running things.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      Clearly mit, you don’t live in hurricane or snow storm prone area; if you did, you would be accustomed to folks buying every loaf of bread, bottle of milk, etc., when one of these natural events is forecasted, and with good reason…
      And, to my personal experience, many of the GIANT (200,000+ SF ) wallyworld stores in the far reaches of fly over country are frequently full of empty shelves on Mondays, and sometimes even Tuesday mornings, even without any kind of weather event.
      Many places seen with this in the last 20 years or so, and includes other big box/home improvement type places too…
      Working folks tend to shop on the weekends, now of course including Sundays,,, and tend to buy ALL of the necessities they can afford when they have to travel 40-50 miles to the nearest ”super” big box.

    • Auldyin says:

      ‘MT
      Russia, a ‘gas station’ posing as a country?
      USA, a ‘Walmarts’ posing as a ??
      UK, a museum posing???

  14. These inventory figures are instore? The big chains are into pickup and delivery. They don’t keep anything in the store. I needed a gallon of vinegar at my home imp store, couldn’t find it in store, and ordered it for pickup and it came the next day.

    • Xavier Caveat says:

      For want of a nail gun, a hammer was sold instead?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      These are in-store inventories, including in the back of the store and out on the lot (car dealers). Inventory in distribution centers and warehouses and wholesalers and in-transit are not included. Ecommerce is not included. This is on a store-by-store basis, what the stores have on hand. So the ecommerce fulfillment centers of brick-and-mortar retailers are not included.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Thank you once again for the additional clarity regarding the basis and bases of the Wonderful WolfStreet.com charts, data, and explanations…
        Time and enough for another cash contribution based on the continuing contribution to my understanding of the current financial investment climate and weather.
        ”You go Guy!!”

  15. Fair's fair says:

    Wolf, I see that Cobalt and Right NYer can both say nasty things about women and you post their comments, but when a former poster on another article used a derogatory word for a Chinese person (he later said he didn’t know it was derogatory) you went after him for it. I know you are a man and it’s mostly men who comment here, but I think it’s only right that you moderate fairly and dismiss comments like theirs.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Fair’s fair,

      If you see an offending comment, reply to it, and say that’s over the line, and then I’ll look for what I might have missed. Commenters do this all the time, and I appreciate it. I have deleted plenty of comments that said something offensive about women (and pissed commenters off for doing it). But obviously, I don’t always catch everything.

      In terms of pejoratives: they’re not pejoratives for people who use them, but for the people that are being described by these pejoratives.

      • Fair's fair says:

        Thanks, Wolf, it’s nice to know you are a decent man.

      • Harrold says:

        RightNYer
        Aug 19, 2021 at 7:16 am
        I actually took a liking to Larry Summers after he made his now infamous comment about women’s brains being different for science.

        • Petunia says:

          Larry was jealous because I’m smarter than him and his admirers too.

        • Depth Charge says:

          Women and men ARE different, and thank God for it. There are many things women are better at, and many things men are better at. We live in a world where too many people are looking for a way to be offended. It’s time to “(wo)man up” and get a spine. This whole coddled snowflake culture is rotten to the core.

        • RightNYer says:

          If you think that’s “nasty,” you have an interesting definition of “nasty.”

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Harrold,

          OK, Summers made this comment that became essentially a career-ender for an economist. And RightNYer said that he “took a liking” to that guy after he made that comment. That’s way to foggy for me to try to figure out what to do with it.

          I’ll yield to Petunia, Lisa_Hooker, Kitten Lopez, and other notable women here. If they say that the comment can stay, it stays. If they say it needs to go, it goes.

        • RightNYer says:

          Why is it okay for people to say that women are better at certain things, but not okay to say men are better at certain things?

          No one bats an eye when people say that people of African descent are better sprinters, but when people say anything positive about Europeans, they throw a tantrum.

          I’m with Depth. I don’t like what our society has become.

        • Bet says:

          How does the joke go ? A mans brain is worth more than the female brain? Because the mans brain was never used.
          Yes our brains are different But one is not superior to the other.
          One thing that should be equal ( not enough , ever) is respect
          Also perhaps Mr. Summers should look at the history of women in science who have not been given credit or had it taken from them
          Long list there

        • Petunia says:

          Wolf, et al.,

          I don’t remember Summers’ comment anymore, what I remember is not being surprised by it. I had a low opinion of him as an economist before the comment, due to his general lack of judgement on economic matters. His lack of tact was no surprise as well.

          There’s often similar commentary here and mostly I let it go out of habit. Women get used to the lack of respect and regard they experience in the world at large. Some men are so used to doing it they can’t see how egregious it is and how inferior it makes them look.

          Being more confrontational than most women, I push back when it gets especially arrogant. More women need to address those comments, and have those nasty conversations.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Petunia is right — “More women need to address those comments, and have those nasty conversations.”

          We talk about men and women as monolithic blocks. So when we say, for example, that men are physically stronger than women, we think we’re on solid ground. But that’s the problem. We should say, the average man is physically stronger than the average woman, but a certain percentage of women are physically stronger than half the men.

        • RightNYer says:

          Petunia, “nasty” is about the way something is presented, not the idea that’s being presented.

        • Petunia says:

          RNY,

          You are not the only offender on the site, but you are definitely in that league. You are also mistaken about ideas not being nasty.

          I follow the work of many people I don’t agree with, because I admire the way they think or construct an argument. I can say you lack both of those talents. And in addition, I am not surprised you seemed offended by the idea, of a woman reacting to a nasty comment with a nasty reply.

        • RightNYer says:

          I’m not offended at all. But the definition of “nasty” is about tone and language, not the idea.

          For example:

          – Women are bossy and irrational and have no business doing anything but running a household = nasty

          – Women’s brains are different and they are more susceptible to rhetoric and suggestibility and therefore, do not belong in positions of power = not nasty

          If you’re offended by ideas with which you disagree, the problem is with you, not the idea.

        • Petunia says:

          RNY,

          I would say your entire example was constructed to make any choice one that makes women look bad. A nasty thing to do.

    • kitten lopez says:

      Fair’s Fair, i like that you call out Wolf if you find his judgement off. he can take it and should.

      but i found the comment regarding women’s brains endearingly funny and outdated but… true, right? i use what Petunia wrote herself to think we’ve got it coming:

      “I follow a bunch of women who spend way to much money on luxury goods and show off on the internet. They are mostly upper middle class or maybe heavily in debt lovers of fashion…”

      plus we’re in charge right now and women rule social media and thus the world now, so if they started making “women driver” jokes, we’d just be patting them on the head.

      but i’m reverting to some kind of Puerto Rican Archie Bunker freaky girl over here. i crave wrongness, inappropriateness, something much less offensive than this new Segregated City by the Bay, this New Jim Crow San Francisco that is being instituted tomorrow.

      i’ve been quiet here ever since James went on a date with a CHINESE AMERICAN friend of mine, former agent, who sat outside with him near a faulty heat lamp because he already wasn’t allowed inside. dog could go inside but James had to sit outside like a dog, trying to impress a woman who said he had no right to complain about Anything because he’s a White Man, and after 3 hours of talking to him, she said it’d never work because he’s unvaxxed and her ROOMMATE won’t approve.

      i was livid. we’re back to everything my folks fought against and then i heard about the passports and knew i had to up what i got Wolf in trouble for here, and i’m making a closed edition of 100 Ikea-styled colorful cheery Jewish armbands with googly eyes and covid pom poms (i’ve made 95 out of 400 already, that’s why i’ve not been here), and i’m going to wear them out everywhere and dance on the street with lettering on my back that says, “LIVE FREE OR DIE.”

      so i’m not the right one to ask because i’m gonna say YES to it ALL. nothing’s FUNNY anymore. or wrong.

      except me with these armbands and googly eyes.

      i had to “take it back.”

      so i’m kinda not “feeling” women these days.

      i’m a bad WOMAN to ask because i don’t fit in and am catching hell for it from The Girls.

      that’s why i listen to Petunia for clicks and hints. i crave strong alpha solo female wolf (ha ha!)guidance.

      more later. i’ll give a photo to Wolf when i’m done with my armbands. they’re my new “zine.”

      and others wanna wear them!

      they’re not to piss others off; they’re to find our own wrong inappropriate fun people.

      they’re closing out the WRONG people: THE INTERESTING ONES.

      so i’m the wrong one to ask.

      getting yelled at / gotta go. James made dinner!

      xx

      • kitten lopez says:

        whoa… Wolf, i could CRY. i am. wow.

        i slept on the fact that i’d angered you and i said to James before i went to bed, “James, i don’t much care about most folks here anymore, but i really don’t want to lose Wolf as a friend. THAT’s not okay in all this.”

        so i thought about something more to the point here, and this morning i came back on here to re-write something more generic that you could better tolerate …and you still put this first thing i wrote, UP???
        wow.

        full on tears streaming down my face at this point because i do love Wolf –he’s had my back in a way friends i’ve had for DECADES haven’t even ever considered– and i’m floundering around trying to re-discover my patriotism and what it means for me to be a Quaker again and not just a reacting tantrum girl, in this American Experiment i had no idea was not only so fragile, but …our inception was so UNLIKELY.

        and i’m struggling to find another way out of this binary hell we’re in.

        i also love that Wolf took the complaint about his moderation further. that takes a lot of humility and openness and acceptance and opens the truly interesting conversations that can get us out of the back-and-forth trap.

        Wolf is a very, very good man. i love you, Wolf. thanks for letting me be who i am and am trying to be.

        Wow… what a way to wake up.

        i love you, Wolf. thanks for Everything. i really didn’t wanna lose you as a friend because i’m only just finally coming out of my decade-long hibernation.

        this very SITE of yours has taught me to look under the hood of all my assumptions and question everything, but still believe in humanity and all THIS. this American experiment.

        i used to be moved by comments about the plight of women in Afghanistan, and now i’m realizing women have to fight, too. not just expect the men to do all the fighting and dying.

        if we want anything, we have to fight for it. fight well. what does that mean? i don’t know. but i know it means we cannot be passive anymore and have others fight our battles if we want to truly be FREE.

        i’m also rediscovering the blood sweat and reality of that word now. we can’t keep making others kill our food and defend our supposed honor.

        anyhow, Wolf, this is HUGE. that means the world to me what you just did.

        xxxxxxxxx

      • Petunia says:

        KL,

        For someone who enjoys being as judgemental as you, I can’t believe you fell into the trap of thinking my interest in fashion is just a feminine pastime. I do love pretty things, but so do men. And fashion being an industrial juggernaut, it is not a frivolous pastime, for someone with an education and career in the financial world.

        Obviously, you are not paying attention, and probably neither is Larry and his coterie. Those women I follow, put their big bucks on the line every month. They are a leading indicator of where the high end of the juggernaut is going to be in the near future. If the high end is suffering, you can bet, your armbands won’t be selling either.

        • kitten lopez says:

          Miss Petunia-

          that was your “Devil Wears Prada” version of why i wear the blue i do! (smile)

          AND
          i don’t think your interest in fashion is a frivolous feminine pastime. i have Betsy Johnson’s memoir in a stack beside me, along with a glossy art book called, “Switched On: women who revolutionized style in the 60s.” written just like that in lower case helvetica.

          i love porn, potato chips, and weed so i’m not puritanical by a long shot. yes, as judgemental as i love to be (James actually thinks i’m accepting of people but i say NO I’M NOT! I WANT THE BEST OF EVERY SINGLE HUMAN!) and to my idealistic despairing self thinks those women blowing all that cash on designer wares and filming themselves to me is the worst of women’s power with our head up our collective asses as the world burns.

          BUT
          i’m done with women for now. we are not the future. we got it and look what we did with it. colored folks, too. i’m out. i fold on the color gender whatever thing. regarding the safety domesticated rigid unfun boringness of women right now, i’m not into screwing us literally or figuratively or doing much else with us. i think we’ve become weak, domesticated, frilly, asexual even as we profess to be tinder vixens, and we’re unhappy confused, self absorbed… absurd.

          (by the time this thread is done, i’ll make the boys and larry summers included, look like 70s feminists and i’ll be worse than phyllis schlafly)

          women don’t even appear to enjoy sex or much of ANYTHING anymore and thus have lost the plot. we have always led, even when we swooned and maintained otherwise. we just ruled from below and now that we’re ruling from above and below, no one’s getting tipped anymore because we don’t even think about carrying singles fives or tens for that and now everything’s out of balance now that men are scared hunted and i don’t believe the lies about who’s making more anymore because all the white collar men i know make less than the women in their lives.

          women now got too … we didn’t TIP we don’t TIP… so out of balance…women, they think it’s about getting stuff… then going online and flaunting it.

          for their men? no. to people online. they are movie stars. movie stars give to NO ONE. it’s all IMAGE by that point.

          so everyone’s pointing fingers and doing a lot of “telling” but no one’s actually DOING ANYTHING ANYMORE.

          besides deliveries “maiding” hooking driving and other services, no one’s LIVING.

          maybe your mileage varies where you are, but here in ground zero of the social media innerweb revolution, there is no romance sex mystery kindness openness and open discourse.

          it is why i went to bed telling James, “i don’t want to lose Wolf as a friend.” because everything you see/hear online is here in Real Life in this dystopian san francisco coming soon to a town near you.

          already people are speaking of Walmart takeovers of mainstreet fondly.

          so, no.. these tiny movie star women are not the future of anything except our own narcissistic demise. they have no flair no heart in the real.

          in MANHATTAN, being beautiful was like a service you provided. you led people. either to hell or you were nice to ugly people once in awhile. you inspired people to write songs or start fights and step out of their comfort zones and embarrass the hell out of themselves for just a smile from a pretty woman.

          now i find pretty ugly because it is all passive and give me.

          i think men are the underdogs now and the most interesting romantic daring ones.

          you have to exempt yourself from all i say in my dripping judgements. you can do no wrong. even if you wear black yoga pants to the grave!

          but women have no sex no squirm. they’re out of balance. they want want want.

          feminism isn’t feminism. it went off the rails like everything has did and will. “His Girl Friday” with Rosalind Russell. THAT is the kind of woman who will tell us ALL the future.

          anyone on youtube is by definition NOT the future of anything i want a part of to me.

          but what do i know? my future fashion mini-empire idea is built upon the brilliance of Henry Rollins uniform of black tshirt and chinos over a muscularly solid body. who needs fashion when your muscles are real?

          i’m going for something else.

          i met a cat from NY– a boricua from the BRONX — on my way to get yarn for my pom poms. we talked on mission street for 45 minutes and he’s designing jean jackets with embroidery on the INSIDE. threads all hanging outside…

          made me think of those Japanese merchants who, because of the sartorial laws regarding class/status, wore the required boring kimonos but wild elegant and colorful silk linings INSIDE.

          it’s a philosophy of men that i need now. that you do what you must to get by another day, but you always rebel in the most beautiful defiantly elegant way possible.

          nah. women are running things and this is our vision made manifest that we’re living in now. i’m not impressed.

          i love watching women on youtube because it’s fascinating how no one has actual real life FRIENDS anymore. they talk to their phones like crazy people, thinking all those people they don’t know are their pals.

          they have “fun” online doing things they’re too distracted to do in real life because they’re on their phones.

          it’s hella sad, actually. no. i don’t want this future. women aren’t leading me anywhere i wanna go and i learned all this too late.

          labels are irrelevant now, anyhow. no matter where you look, high quality is toast because no one knows how to do it, recognize it, or appreciate it, much less afford it.

          and for the record, my real dream was to emulate Warhol/Basquiat regarding clothing… a la Dapper Dan.

          so THAT’S why i wear my particular color blue, High Queen!

          x

        • kitten lopez says:

          oh yeah, my REVISED vision is that because the internet is off limits to open discussion and finding differing people, the clothing i make must be how we speak and say what we want.

          now that Artistic Freedom and thus Free Speech is dead online and we are physically isolated and only exist online, i’m even more into one-of-a-kind items (like armbands) that SCREAM.

          so even my beloved Warhol / Basquiat have recently become irrelevant to me, like rich women showing their crap online.

          “fashion” in a world where art is irrelevant, is becoming the only way to be heard as an individual.

          that’s why i’d rather put the bad jokes out there, fight it out amongst each other, watch how the Petunias fight back so’s we can do it ourselves, and only leave the censoring for comfort to the big tech companies.

          x

        • Petunia says:

          KL,

          It’s too bad you keep missing the point about those women. They understand their ecosystem. They exercise clear choices with their dollars. Those choices and those voices shows up in actual economic data. No hollow liberal bullshit in those stats. And I’ll add that choosing not to look like a lesbian is revolutionary these days.

        • kitten lopez says:

          Petunia-

          the truth is, i don’t WANT to understand those women. i could barely stand myself and my best friend when we ourselves were constantly fretting over our faces in mirrors like everyone with the magic phone movie stardom.

          when i went on my last and final book tour, they were the soulless heartless women who hit on me because they’d turned their husbands into groveling confused money makers panicking about heating bills for castles.

          annual Vuitton bags from the husbands that they kept pristine under their beds until their daughters stole ’em and actually used ’em.

          i don’t even KNOW how to run alongside their stories because they’re like the boring “Body Heat” endings where you kill everyone and burn up your gorgeous house just so’s you can have money in the bank and be on an island with a stranger.

          that’s why i’m here trying to figure Regular People out and what and why and how they spend their money on cheap Chinese crap and will sell out their own family, burn up their gorgeous houses for more crap and a stranger from tinder.

          in truth, i just had my 54th birthday on the 10th, and on a daily basis since a few days before that day, no lie– i’ve been melting as my former self as i lose my illusions about everything and i no longer CARE about “everyone” or anyone who’s not here with me.

          i had no idea i was as different as i am and the more i try to “understand” those women or regular people even HERE in SF, the more i’m in horror that i ever cared what ANYONE thought or thought i could make it anywhere. i’ve had an amazingly magical sexy wrong inappropriate fun adventurous life and i don’t want to live like anyone else anywhere.

          good for those women. really. i’m glad they’ve got it going on.

          and i can’t really belittle the existential crisis i’m having again by even taking the bait and putting down ANYONE, so yes… i have been judgemental. but only because or when it affects me and my life and freedom. or when i have to deal with the emotional fallout from the vapidity, and teach young men about the reality of pubic hair and how we don’t really dig having them come in our faces on the first date.

          i’m good over here.

          i’m glad they understand their ecosystem. but they always have, Petunia. that’s why i say i realized women have been running things for a long ass time like royal matriarchs, because they also understood the ecosystem of families and power and relationships.

          they knew when their kids weren’t even walking yet, who’d take over the family biz, who’d be the gay priest, and so on.

          i’m questioning everything and what matters. i have no time anymore to compare myself to anyone because i’ve not ever SEEN what i’m becoming and it spooks me.

          it’s suicidal because who i was only 2 weeks ago is half gone already.

          i don’t even RECOGNIZE myself when i say, “let the Afghani women fight it out if they really want true freedom.”

          but i believe it. i think it’s time for us all to become as feral as you and i have been when we’ve been cornered in the elevators and nearly lost our hymens over it.

          i’m trying to be a new world and bring in a new ecosystem or way of thinking and being myself, so i can only nod to you and those women and truly mean it when i toast to you: “more power to you all.”

          i want to change how people love and think and solve problems. i’m tired of pendulum swings of predictability. before i’m outta here i aim to figure out how to spike the whole thing and in the wobbles i hope other ways will come up.

          it’s audacious. thousands of years of civilization and we’re the same assholes we’ve always been. but what i know from traveling the U.S. is that we’re all sweethearts up close. we are.

          how do i as an artist remind us of this? if i can clothe people so they feel grounded as themselves and MORE of themselves, it’s amazing what tedium and death you can intercept when people are flying as themselves.

          art is a love affair in clothes with appropriate language or unclothed and nasty.

          that’s what i’m about now. magic stuff. that’s why i’ve been over at John Michael Greer’s site, figuring out how to manifest what i knew i was born here to do and be. i’m up. all my life i’ve been waiting and now… i’m UP. it feels like being called up on stage after waiting in the green room for a decade.

          this is mystical stuff i try and keep from Wolf’s site, but it’s leaking. but all this money’s magic. that’s why we’re here trying to understand it.

          i’m trying to start something …new. not in tech. in the 5D first then 3D.

          what else is there to do but gape in horror… OR try something new. maybe that’s why i don’t write on here as much, even though i lurk. i’m out of WORDS.

          i hate complaining and feeling helpless. this all may fail but failure is success and it’s more fun than waiting around to die and have the government take everything or anything i might have left i wanna leave James.

          so more power to anyone who’s got it going on how they want it. i want something else that’s on the tip of my tongue that i don’t even know if there’s a word for, Petunia.

          but if anyone could pull something crazy off, i could. i’ve been in training my whole life.

          (more power to me?)

          x

    • zr says:

      I know how you feel. One time I wrote a passionate response to RightNYer’s Xenøphøbic comment about how I’m living the American Dream as an immigrant. But Wolf’s sensors are so off the charts they gave me a shock and awe moment. I guess the trigger word was that I spelled the Latin honors correctly. coom laude. The worst part is that other people respond to the Xenøphøbic comment while “your comment is awaiting moderation”. By the time WOLF sees it and take it down, it will be too late by then.

      • RightNYer says:

        I don’t remember the post to which you refer, but if your idea of “the American dream” involves shouting down people you disagree with, that doesn’t speak well of your interpretation of American values.

  16. Anthony A. says:

    I just saw this in the WSJ:

    “Amazon.com Inc. plans to open several large physical retail locations in the U.S. that will operate akin to department stores, a step to help the tech company extend its reach in sales of clothing, household items, electronics and other areas, people familiar with the matter said.

    The plan to launch large stores will mark a new expansion for the online-shopping pioneer into bricks-and-mortar retail, an area Amazon has long disrupted.

    Some of the first Amazon department stores are expected to be located in Ohio and California, the people said.”

    Isn’t this kind of a move contrary to their historical business plan? Am I missing something here?

    • MiTurn says:

      A great example of this mis-adventure from online (originally catalogue) to brick-and-mortar is Coldwater Creek. At one time they were one of our area’s largest employers. After they expanded from online stores to walk-in stores they went bankrupt.

      I’m sure that there were multiple factors that converged to bring about their demise, but one of them surely has to be hubris.

      • Auldyin says:

        @MT
        Before the tech revolution 1000’s of women shopped regularly by ‘mail order catalogue’ which even gave credit to regulars.
        A scroll & click versus thumbing through a book and phoning an order.
        It would be a great economics/psychology project to precisely study how Amazon was able crunch these businesses given that delivery logistics were roughly the same. Was it just management asleep at the wheel or did Amazon ‘loss lead’ due to easy capital?

    • Ron says:

      There delivery service can’t get workers low pay maybe 60 hour week easy to figure out

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Amazon has been playing with brick-and-mortar stores for many years, and then abandoned them, only to try again in a different format. They also bought Whole Foods, which to date is their only successful entry into brick-and-mortar. Amazon has a huge amount of money and constantly tries new things and then abandons them. Maybe something will eventually stick.

      Every time Amazon tries something like this, it gets a huge amount of press, and then when it gets shut down, that happens quietly.

    • Rowen says:

      Yes, what’s changed is the compression of the product development cycle, especially in apparel. C2B and on-demand. In China, not sure about the US, but they have on-demand bespoke apparel. Customer has their physical specs on file, and can order any item custom made off the assembly line. Since it’s 90% robots, it doesn’t really matter where the factory is. You can pretty much apply this to almost every product category. furniture, shoes, etc.

      So it’s not traditional brick and mortar, but a physical extension of their online user interface.

  17. Raging Texan says:

    Wolf, can’t tell you how much I appreciate your macro analysis, but I chuckled at your headline ” …Food Stores Near Normal” – What’s normal Wolf?

    • RightNYer says:

      My guess is it means that food stores don’t have supply issues any more. All of my grocery stores are fully stocked, and there’s nothing I can’t get (like, for example, ketchup at one point during the pandemic). But prices are up significantly.

      • Swamp Creature says:

        Prices of produce and fish are the same as they were a year ago. No Inflation. Supply chain issues yes, price inflation no, I’m going to send J Powell a letter and like Jim Cramer said on CNBC “He’s doing one heck of a job”

        • RightNYer says:

          He’s doing a heck of a job making the rich richer and tearing America apart. Not sure what else.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Raging Texan,

      Normal ≠ empty-shelves March-April 2020

  18. Masked Ghost says:

    I have noticed that certain days are not good for grocery shopping.

    If I go early mornings on Wednesday to Sunday, the shelves are well stocked.

    But on Monday and Tuesday the shelves are looking close to empty.

    It may have something to do with staffing, or perhaps truck deliveries ?

    • Rowen says:

      In most places (at least near me), Wednesdays are the beginning of the groceries sales week, so they’re fully stocked in the morning. Likewise, Tuesdays are bare, because they’re waiting to rotate the sales item.

  19. Auldyin says:

    Reading UK news here today.
    Toyota to cut September production worldwide by 40%
    from 950k to 500k units due to chip disruption.
    VW have said they will also review production going forward. Wow! Huge numbers and that’s Toyota the production meisters.

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