Amazon is Still Booming In the Retail Holiday Slump


Retail sales slumped 1.1% in November but nonstore retailers like Amazon still show strength.

Deep Trouble in Some Sectors

Food and Drinking places, clothing stores, and department stores are all in deep trouble.

Department stores were in a long decline anyway but clothing stores joined the party. 

Try At Home

With loose return policies people can now buy things try them on at home, then return them if they do not fit.

Covid did not cause this shift, but it did accelerate things.

What About Gasoline?

Gasoline is dependent on hugely fluctuating prices, demographics of boomers getting older and driving less, millennials apt to take an Uber or Lyft, affordability of cars, and work-at-home.

The work-at-home portion of the above mix is easily seen in the above chart but let's hone in on the details.

Advance Retail Sales Select Winners and Losers Detail

Advance Retail Sales Select Winners and Losers detail 2020-11

The food and drinking recover was strong for two months then stalled. 

The recovery is misleading because it was led by fast-food places like McDonalds, Wendy's, Arbys, etc. 

The inside dining recovery was much weaker and states have begun new lockdowns and restrictions. 

The slump from October to November is ominous because it will get far worse for stores mostly or totally dependent on indoor dining. 

Nonstore Retail Sales as Percent of Advance Retail Sales

Nonstore Retail Sales as Percent of Advance Retail Sales 2020-11

Online Shopping

People don't buy gasoline, food, or motor vehicles online. Motor vehicles buying patterns are slowing changing but those changes are not reflected in nonstore sales. 

Retail Sales Year-Over-Year Details

  • Advance Retail Sales were 4.1 percent above November 2019.
  • Nonstore retailers were up 29.2 percent from November 2019.
  • Food services and drinking places were down 17.2 percent from last year.

For discussion and four additional charts, please see Shoppers Pull the Plug on Spending at the Start of the Holiday Season.


Comments (13)
No. 1-11
Dodge Demon
Dodge Demon


How can I front-run this?


its about e-commerce and amazon has scale. at this point its a monopolistic concern


McKenzie is giving a lot to charity. The best thing Jeff can do for humanity is to get divorced again.

(Did I say that out loud?)


I've not gone shopping in a retail store for close to a year. I have bought on-line, not just groceries but clothing too. This is the new reality. The pandemic only accelerated what was already occurring.


I recently went out to buy a new winter coat. Went to one of those outlet places with many shops offering discounts. I went to four different stores and couldnt find a wool coat to save my life nor much of anything else in my size. Went to amazon, found perfect coat in perfect size in under five minutes.

Delivered to my door in three days.

I often get the sense that retail just doesnt care anymore about customers.

Rocky Raccoon
Rocky Raccoon

Guilty. Just put an Echo home theater in my office. Sounds amazing for what it is. Amazon is good a developing great new technologies and giving people what they need. The alternative is going into a Best Buy and having some teenager sell me what they would buy without ever listening to what I want.


In Australia there are people who will negotiate between dealers on your behalf and get a discounted price for your car delivered to your door...

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