A post at Egghat's blog drew my attention to US retail sales. I knew they were bad, but had somehow missed the extent of the carnage:
Acording to the US Census Bureau, total retail sales in the 4 months to April are down a massive 10 % compared to 2008.
These are nominal numbers, so it's no surprise that the weakest figures are gas station sales (-34.6 %). But it's not just lower gas prices (and anyway, you'd expect that money saved on gas is spent on something else, right?).
Here's a list of the other major categories:
Car dealers: -22.7 %
Furniture stores: -14.3 %
Building materials & garden equipment: -11.2 %
Electronics & appliance stores: -6.9 %
Clothing stores: -6.1 %
Nonstore (incl. internet & mail order): -5.8 %
Miscellaneous retailers: -4.9 %
Sports, hobby, books and music: -2.2 %
Food & beverage stores: 0.1 %
General merchandise stores: 0.5 %
Restaurants & drinking places: 1.7 %
Health & personal care stores: 2.8 %
Pretty bleak, huh?
Basically, everything except food and healthcare is in freefall.
(A side note: Department stores, currently struggling to survive as a category in Germany, are also very weak in the US. They belong to "general merchandise stores", and their sales dropped 6.7 %, whereas "Supercenters" - i.e. Walmart - posted strong growth).