Did modern-day progressivism destroy the U.S. economy? Best Buy is “seeing more and more particularly organized retail crime.” Criminals stole about $200,000 in products from an Apple store in Santa Rosa, CA. Culprits recently targeted a Louis Vuitton store in Chicago and took approximately $100,000 worth of products. Crime sprees in San Francisco have gotten so bad that Walgreens closed five locations in the city. And this is just the tip of the iceberg in a new trend that U.S. retailers and industry observers are calling “organized retail theft.” Or, if you are Charles Payne from the Fox Business Network, “organized looting.”
According to a National Retail Federation report, these criminal activities cost businesses roughly $700,000 per $1 billion in sales. A separate report from the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail estimates that mobs of thieves have cost brick-and-mortar shops $45 billion in annual losses.
From smash-and-grabs to stealing goods and then returning them for cash to unsuspecting customer service representatives, these individuals are utilizing all sorts of methods against Corporate America and mom-and-pop vendors. Be it by using social media or simultaneous blitzes, if there is a store to rob and loot, they will find a way.
But what is driving this development? Experts have put forward a wide variety of opinions. Some say that the coronavirus pandemic has weighed on the public for too long, resulting in desperation. Others argue that progressive policies of the last 20 years, such as easing penalties for shoplifting, have facilitated this environment.
Whatever the case may be, American retailers continue to be battered and beaten in the post-pandemic economy. While some public officials are paying lip service to law and order, their actions and remarks during the riots of summer 2020 may have fueled this fire.
Dollar Tree Abandons the Buck
Dollar stores have functioned as places for cash-strapped consumers to purchase affordable household items. From light bulbs to loaves of bread, many of these locations have become crucial for low- and middle-income shoppers. But one company specializing in items selling for $1 has chosen to raise its prices in the middle of an inflationary environment.
Dollar Tree recently announced that it is increasing its prices permanently. The publicly traded company, formerly known as $1.00, confirmed that it is hiking its price tags by a quarter to $1.25. This is the first price hike in its 35-year history.
The reason? It is not necessarily because of inflation. Instead, according to Dollar Tree, customers have responded well to higher prices in markets where it tested the $1.25 pricing point. Investors have also been bullish on the decision, with shares rallying about 50% since the last quarterly earnings call.
“[Customers] have also indicated they are seeing price increases across the market and that Dollar Tree is still providing the products they need at an undeniable value,” Dollar Tree said in a statement. “Lifting the one-dollar constraint represents a monumental step for our organization and we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to meaningfully improve our shoppers’ experience and unlock value for our stakeholders.”
Products selling for a buck are the next casualty in the Bidenflation economy.
Red Friday on Wall Street
It may have been Black Friday on Main Street, but it was Red Friday on Wall Street Nov. 26. It was a bloodbath on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange amid a sharp selloff across the U.S. financial markets.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average crashed more than 900 points below 35,000. The Nasdaq Composite Index plummeted more than 350 points to under 15,500. The S&P 500 shed 100 points to end the holiday-shortened trading week below 4,600. Gold, natural gas, and corn were the only winners that day. Everyone else? Silver, copper, wheat, soybeans, gasoline, and heating oil contracts were clobbered.
Investors were spooked by the World Health Organization (WHO) announcing a new COVID strain, named omicron, that was listed as a variant of concern. Although the international body has warned against knee-jerk reactions, officials stated that increased reinfection risks are possible. WHO leaders note that it could take weeks to determine how the variant might affect diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. Countries have already taken action, such as imposing travel restrictions on nations in southern Africa.
Are investors buying the dip also catching falling knives? Or are they taking advantage of paranoia infiltrating the equities arena? Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group, might have said it best in a note: “Traders are putting the fear of this new strain ahead of the reality.” It turns out that investors learned the error of their ways, though. The financial markets – minus natural gas – are rallying on Nov. 29, allowing the bulls to bear their chests in triumph.
So now, the next question becomes: Will the Federal Reserve get scared and refrain from tapering the pandemic-era quantitative easing program any further? The next few weeks will be an exciting time in financial markets.
~ Read more from Andrew Moran.