At the end of January I asked whether we'd reached an economic tipping point. Two of the warning signs I identified were that Amazon.com's results for the last quarter of 2013 slipped, and durable goods orders slumped during peak shopping season.
Now it seems that the economic bad news is spreading through the entire retail sector. Bloomberg reports:
U.S. retailers last quarter suffered their darkest days since the recession.
With results in from 62 of 122 retail chains, the industry has posted its first profit quarterly drop since the economic contraction that ended in 2009, according to Retail Metrics Inc. Revenue also rose at the lowest rate since that year, the research firm found.
The results paint a grim picture of an industry hit hard by the sluggish job recovery and slow wage growth, which have turned U.S. consumers into a nation of penny pinchers. Earnings are expected to drop 6.1 percent on average during the holiday quarter, according to Retail Metrics data.
. . .
The lack of wage gains restrained many consumers from making discretionary purchases ... To cope, some chains cut prices by 50 percent to 60 percent. The industry hasn’t seen such heavy discounting since the “fire sale” that took place during the 2008 holiday quarter.
There's more at the link.
I've already discussed how to prepare for economic hard times. I'm afraid such measures are likely to become more important - and more necessary - than ever.