The retail industry appears to be headed for one of the most treacherous holiday seasons since the Great Recession of 2008-2009. As Isaac Larian, CEO of toymaker MGA Entertainment, recently told Bloomberg,
“Everything that can go wrong is going wrong at the same time.”
Factories that make the goods that are crucial to many retailers’ seasonal revenue goals are closed due to the pandemic or are way behind schedule. Finished goods are sitting in containers at clogged ports, waiting to be offloaded onto trailers for which there aren’t enough truck drivers. “Out of stock” notices have begun to proliferate on retail websites.
Meanwhile, the facts on the ground are beginning to betray those economists who have been reassuring us — until now — that this year’s breathtaking spike in inflation, now over 5 percent, is merely an aberration that will run out of gas once the pandemic is over. Which will be… when?
The bellwether for consumer trends is motor fuels. It’s the one product everybody buys regularly. After a year of steadily rising prices, a recent breathtaking leap makes gas at least 50 percent higher than a year ago, and no sign the fever is ready to break.
If you want to know what pandemic-weary consumers think about the future, volatile gasoline prices are a reliable tell.