Every year we hear the same thing. Holiday sales are up 3.5 or 3.8 or 4.1 percent. Good for the economy yes? Not so fast.
For someone like me who spent a good deal of her day job career crunching numbers, this 3% to 4 % stuff smells suspiciously like slicing and dicing the numbers to fit media spin. It seems like growth, but it is massaging the numbers against one variable or another to make it look like growth. Maybe they are comparing quarterly sales, or a sales projection, but one thing they are not doing is comparing apples to apples.
A Little History Please
Ritholtz.com’s post on this subject pointed the way to revealing numbers.
2007: (pre-recession) Holiday sales: $516 billion Holiday sales as percentage of annual retail sales: 19.5% Inflation Rate 2.85%
2008: Holiday sales: $495.5 billion Holiday sales as percentage of annual retail sales: 18.6% Inflation Rate 3.8%
2009: Holiday sales: $504.8 billion Holiday sales as percentage of annual retail sales: 19.4% Inflation Rate -.34%
2010: Holiday sales: 538.1 billion Holiday sales as percentage 19.7% Inflation Rate 1.64%
Inflation rates courtesy of Inflation Data.com
2011: Estimated Holiday Sales (by National Retail Federation)
$469.1 Billion Inflation Rate: (Trending on) 3.2%
Yeah. If the National Retail Federation has tracked it numbers right, we’ve lost ground in 2011.
And where did the money go?
Unemployment: Since the recession was triggered in 2008 153.5 billion in wage dollars has been lost to the economy. (from Wage Statistics 2007 to 2010 from the Social Security Administration).
As long as Wall Street and venture capitalists continue to reward corporations for off-shoring and downsizing, we continue to play the fool when we express shock that the U.S. economy is not creating many new jobs.
–Jeffrey Pfeffer, guest contributor, CNN Money
Inflation: In 2011 besides income dropping holiday dollars were lost by inflation driven food and energy cost increases in July, August, September and October. If you notice in the table above, when the inflation rate spikes, holiday shopping drops.
In other words, we can’t spend what we don’t have.
Financial and Mundane astrology tracks the fortunes of nations against their natal chart. If you look at the natal chart of the United States and compare the start of the Christmas buying season, the rise and fall of retail sales can be tracked astrologically.
At the beginning of the Christmas season in 2008 Pluto, the planet of transformation was poised at 29 Sagittarius. Goldman-Sachs had just filed for bankruptcy two weeks prior and the Emergency Stablilization Act of 2008, commonly known as the “bailout” was approved on October 3. No one expected a bad Christmas, but it happened anyway. Pluto here was opposite the Venus/Jupiter position of 3-5 degrees of Cancer.
Christmas 2009 saw a small rally, but here the planet of abundance Jupiter was sitting with the United States Moon in Aquarius, representing the public. Transiting Chiron and Neptune is there too, showing a cockeyed optimism from the collective as the inflation rate chilled. The problems were still there, we just didn’t choose to deal with it. Transiting Saturn on the Midheaven makes our problems very public and the world watched as bankruptcy after corporate bankruptcy was filed.
Christmas 2010—The U.S. experiences a Saturn Return; deepening the problems with the American economy. Slow moving Neptune still remains on the U. S. Moon. The inflation rate is relatively tame. Mars and Mercury is in Sagittarius in friendly energetic connection to transiting Saturn and the U. S. Moon. Sagittarius is ruled by the planet of abundance, Jupiter so this is the same kind of influence that bumped the previous year’s Christmas sales.
Christmas 2011—Even though Mercury is in Sagittarius, it is in retrograde motion. Uranus by retrograde motion just crossed the 4th-10th (Home/Public affairs) house axis. Venus, the planet of money opposes the U. S. Venus and is loosely conjunct Pluto in Capricorn. These are all indications of contraction in business affairs.
So it is no surprise that the 2011 Christmas season was not the recovery indicator that was promised. So what does 2012 hold for us?
Month-by-Month Financial Forecast for 2012
January 2012–T Mars conjuncts Neptune, Transiting Venus conjuncts the U.S. Moon. Pluto opposes the Sun. Jupiter moves into earthy Taurus. Food and energy prices continue to rise. The price of gold and silver can fall.
February 2012—Transiting Mercury conjuncts the U. S. Moon. The planet of trouble, Mars, conjuncts the U.S. Neptune, the planet of illusions and mass appeal. Expect the news to be filled with calls for job creation. Actual action on this issue: doubtful.
March 2012—Mercury, the planet of commerce joins the planet of the unexpected, Uranus in the 4th house. There is a lot of rapid speculation and profit taking during this period. Expect the market to be volatile. There may be a short spike in gold at the end of the month.
April 2012—The market slows in April due to sluggish first quarter reports. Investors become more cautious. There are a lot of short trades for quick profit taking. Tech stocks are shooting stars in the market. Long-term investments take it on the chin as 1st quarter reports show flat profits. Diversify your portfolios to reduce risk.
May 2012—Venus, the planet of money turns retrograde the middle of the month. Many are tempted to dump long-term investments for quick returns. If you haven’t flushed your money out of the markets by now, this is not the time to do it.
June 2012 & July 2012—As an election year, all sorts of fixes are proposed to soothe the pains of the people. Look for this sort of thing floated in June around the issue of job creation. Health care is once again a campaign issue. While the parties slug this out, keep an eye out for fidgety markets as big business wonders where the money is going to come from to fund high flying ideas. Rising oil prices don’t help. If you can, buy into a budget plan with your local heating oil dealer.
August 2012—The planet of abundance Jupiter crosses over the 7th house of partnerships in the U. S. chart. Analysts have been expecting that the European debt crisis will further weaken markets. This looks like the time when this situation hits the fan. If you are into currency trading American dollars are best.
September 2012—With foreign debt crisis withering an already scant money supply, the oil sellers raise the price of oil to maintain profit levels. American corporations look to mergers as a way gloss up profits.
October 2012—The planet of restriction, Saturn enters the sign of Scorpio in the eleventh house of the U. S. chart. The mood of the public, battered by economic forces beyond its control is sour. This election year will bring about substantive changes in the House of Representatives.
November 2012—Investments in art and the beauty industry shows breakthrough profits. There are unusual spikes in the currency market. Later in the month Mars moves into Capricorn at the start of the holiday shopping season joining transiting Pluto opposing the U. S. Sun. This does not bode well for Black Friday sales.
December 2012—Aside from electronics and video game products, holiday sales are unusually poor. People buy only what they need and they buy it on sale.
In any report about this past Christmas sales, expect a gloss over of these facts, since there are those that want us to buy into the myth that Christmas will save the economy.