Although I've spent lots of time -- and typed plenty of keystrokes -- discussing others' misguided optimism about consumer spending and the commercial real estate markets, that doesn't mean there's nothing more to say.
In fact, recent posts at two blogs I follow only add to my conviction that problems in these two areas will continue to undermine prospects for any sort of meaningful economic recovery for the foreseeable future.
In "Retail Sales: 'Nothing Like Last Year,'" Wall St. Cheat Sheet offers up some additional anectodal evidence (for one of my earlier posts on the subject, click here) on the sober reality of today's consumer marketplace:
This weekend I pumped myself up in the bathroom mirror and headed to the Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Bed Bath and Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) for some anecdotal analysis. The unanimous consensus: “This year is nothing like last year.”
Managers and store staff explained that midweek traffic and overall spending is lower than last year. In other words, people are concentrating their shopping to the weekends and purchasing less during those trips.
Further, Best Buy indicated that consumers are buying fewer items so they can get that one big ticket item (e.g., TV, computer, video game console, etc.). This statement was evidenced by the shoppers clustered around computers and televisions, while the CD, DVD, and accessory isles were less trafficked.
Obviously, my analysis was not scientific. One city does not reflect a national trend. However, the National Retail Federation reported that 195 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the Black Friday weekend, up from 172 million last year, spending $343.71 per person, down from $372.57 in 2008
And in "MBA: CMBS Deterioration Continues," Reuters' Rolfe Winkler notes the latest sorry -- but not unexpected -- news from the association that represents the real estate finance industry:
From the Mortgage Bankers Association:
Delinquency rates continued to increase in the third quarter for most commercial/multifamily mortgage investor groups, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Commercial/Multifamily Delinquency Report.
Here’s the not-pretty chart from MBA’s report (.pdf):