Laffair gained momentum on Tuesday, June 7. Target, one of the largest US retail chains, and one of the best managed, warned that it was suddenly overrun with inventory and that this would affect its financial results. Its warehouses have swelled by 43% compared to 2021, and the firm has made it a priority to reduce them.
Emotion on Wall Street. Freighters are still queuing to unload their goods, truck drivers are missing to transport them, in short, the global logistical chaos is still not over that one of the first American distributors already does not know what to do with the mountains of televisions and joggings that pile up in its stores.
Looking back, analysts find that the Minneapolis group is far from alone in this case. Walmart reports inventory up 32%, Costco 26%. Even the clothing king Gap had to concede that his departments were bordering on overflowing. In total, the Bloomberg agency estimates inventory growth at 45 billion dollars (42.3 billion euros) at the start of the year, or 26% more than in 2021, for integrated consumer goods companies. in the S&P 500 stock index.
Weak signal for inflation
“I have never seen such growth in inventories in my entire career! », exclaims Cathie Wood, the boss of the investment fund Ark Invest. She clearly sees in this the signal of an imminent drop in inflation. Indeed, surpluses are the calamity of traders, because they must eliminate them quickly and therefore sell at a discount, which drives prices down.
It is all the same going a little hastily to predict the end of the flight of prices. Until rising energy costs and labor shortages subside, inflation is unlikely to slow. But this is a first weak signal. Two reasons explain this absurd situation. On the one hand, supermarkets have accumulated stocks so as not to miss sales due to supply problems. This is also what the Spanish clothing giant Inditex (Zara) did, whose stocks jumped by more than 20%.
On the other hand, marketers were surprised by the sudden change in consumer behavior. Gone are the days of wide joggers, big-screen televisions and exercise bikes, so useful to our confined lives. Back to work. At the Macy’s department stores, there has been a rush on the very wise clothes of model employees or, on the contrary, on evening clothes. The consumer is versatile, like the citizen. And, in the end, it is he who decides, by his behavior, the success or failure of an economic policy. And, today, he would like to turn the page.
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