The two most brutal recessions in recent memory are those that hit in 1973 and 1981. It appears that holiday retail sales for 2008 were worse than they were in either of those downturns.
According to Reuters,"The U.S. holiday shopping season is the worst since at least 1970 due to the recession, heavy discounting and harsh winter weather just before Christmas, the International Council of Shopping Centers said."
While the look back at the last two months may be useful, a look forward may be even more troubling. Analysts now expect as many as 72,000 retail store closings in the first half of 2009. As many as 25% of all retail firms may go bankrupt.
The new data makes both of these predictions much more likely, and perhaps, even optimistic.
Douglas A. McIntyre