America’s retail sector has reached a major milestone. In the first quarter, online sales overtook in-store sales for the first time on record, says Justin Walters of the Bespoke Investment Group. The trend was confirmed by the latest figures from the Commerce Department, which noted that the “general merchandise” category comprised 11.8% of overall retail sales in May, compared with non-store sales’ 11.9%.
In the US the general merchandise category refers mainly to supercentres, such as Walmart, department stores, and warehouse clubs, such as Costco. Food and drink, cars, petrol and restaurants are counted separately. Cars and car parts jointly make up the biggest sector, accounting for a fifth of overall sales.
“Private equity has a rotten track record when it comes to listing companies on the stockmarket. Debenhams never recovered from its ownership by a trio of buyout firms more than a decade ago… the chain flogged off its freehold property, cut costs to the bone, and was lumbered with more than £1bn of debt. It is now in the hands of lenders. It is far from alone. Foxtons, Convatec, and Pets at Home have all flopped as public companies, having spent time in the hands of private equity. But few can match the wretched legacy of Acromas, which spawned not one, but two stockmarket dogs: roadside rescue experts the AA and over-50s holiday specialists Saga…. Private equity’s big play is that it has the freedom to invest in companies away from the glare of the public markets. Yet too often companies return to listed life a shadow of their former selves.”
Ben Marlow, The Sunday Telegraph