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TheStreet Open House

Black Friday Mirage Hides U.S. Retail Depression

Here another important point must be made. More than ever food-price inflation is "inflation." Obviously for the billions of people around the world living in poverty and near-poverty, that reality has always been totally apparent. However, for the first time since the Great Depression that Truth has migrated to the West.

Nearly one in six Americans must now subsist on government "food stamps" in order to feed themselves properly. Tens of millions of other Americans struggle barely above that threshold. This is the inevitable result of the more-than-50% decline in wages for the Average American over the past 40 years, or (in other words) a greater-than-50% decline in their standard of living . Food-inflation is inflation.

By any conservative measurement, inflation across the West now rages somewhere between 10% to 20%. Here even the eminent John Williams of Shadowstats.com is guilty of failing to fully factor in this reality in his own calculation of the (real) U.S. inflation rate. Williams only assigns food prices an ordinary weighting in his own inflation calculation, when (as I just explained) food-inflation must now be over-weighted in any inflation calculation.

The inflation-rate on a new Mercedes means nothing to the average person. The inflation-rate on a loaf of bread means everything.

Propaganda Machine

Since retail sales figures include this 10%-to-20% inflation (rather than stripping it out, as would be done by any reputable statistician), the arithmetic is simple. If retail sales were to be officially "flat" (i.e. a 0% increase), then this would translate into retailers selling 10% to 20% less goods -- but simply at higher prices.

As of this moment, the propaganda machine is reporting that "total spending" over the "four-day Black Friday weekend" rose 13% over last year. This number is highly suspicious, given that just 48 hours earlier the same media were reporting that sales on "Black Friday" itself had fallen by 1.8% from last year -- at physical retail stores.

Note that the surge in online sales this year doesn't come close to offsetting the fall in sales from "foot traffic," given that online sales still account for less than 5% of total U.S. retail sales.

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