Reclaiming Common Sense

What Restaurant Recession?

The story of the year during 2015 and 2016 was the "Gasoline Stimulus." Low gasoline prices were supposed to stimulate spending in other retail sectors. The commentators forgot about the "Tax Depressant" of higher taxes under President Obama. They reported on record revenue and forgot that revenue to the government was, and is,  revenue that does not go to retail. This year the recurring themes are the "Restaurant Recession" and the "Retail Ice Age." Readers of this column know that the "Great Recession" was three recessions that created the official "GDP Recession." The Housing recession started at the beginning of 2007. The Jobs Recession began during the Summer of 2008 when the jobs level of 2008 did not exceed the jobs level of 2007. The Retail recession took hold shortly thereafter. Some retail sectors were unimpacted. Most retail sectors have recovered. Some sectors have not recovered, yet. Now people are discussing how we have lost retail jobs. Have we?

Five Retail Sectors have fewer workers than they had during July 2007. The retail Ice Age may has, or had,  hit the Furniture and Furnishing workforce. It has, or had,  hit the Building Material and Garden Sector Workers. The electronics and appliance sector has had a long, slow slide of workers since 2000. Other sectors that have fewer workers than March of 2007 include the Sporting Good and Hobby Sector and the clothing and clothing accessory sectors of the retail sector.

One of the winners is the Food and Beveage Store Sector. There are more than a quarter of a million more people working in this retail sector than during March 2007. Another sector that has more workers is the Automotive Sector. If this information seems familar it is because the data that was released in the March Monthly and Annual Retail Trade Survey (MARTS) Data shows similar patterns. Any interesting difference is that MARTS data includes information regarding the Food and Drinking Places (FDP,) in addition to food and Beverage Stores. If the number of jobs for the FDP sector were added to the first graphic everything else would appear flat. Food and Drinking places have 11.4 million workers.They have added more than 2 million workers , since 2010 when they started pulling out of their own recession

Nine retail Sectors lost workers last month. Only the Automobile, Electronic/Appliances, Building material, and Gasoline Retail sectors saw jobs improve. Eight sectors had improvement over last March. This is not being reported. Five sectors had fewer workers than last March: Electronics and Appliances, Clothing, Sporting Goods and Hobby, and General Merchandise. The Department Store number is a sub-sector of the General Merchandise sector. If it were not for the decline of 62,000 department store jobs since last March the General Merchandise number would have been UP  by almost 20,000 workers.

Is this a Retail Ice Age or a Retail Golden Age? We had more people during March working in retail than any time.Two sectors have not recovered: Electronics and Appliances and Genral Merchandise. Five Sectors are in their Golden Age with more workers than they have ever had for the month of March.We have over 2 million more people working in retail than we had during March 2007, using the MARTS classifications.This growth is almost entirely in the Food and Drinking Places Sector. A Restaurant Recession? Not really

It's the economy.