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The Construction-related Plot Twists in U.S. and Canadian Retail Sales

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U.S. Retail Sales take Exuberant Route

There are a lot of explanations for why souped-up inflation has become so troubling in recent months. Heading the list is supply shortages.

Supply Shortages and Retail Sales Worries around Black Friday & Christmas Graphic

Graph 1 points out, however, that those supply shortages wouldn’t likely have reared up so glaringly if demand hadn’t veered so markedly from its normal pattern.

Instead, U.S. demand for retail goods has taken off in an unprecedented fashion. The curve for actual retail sales has soared way above a forward extension of the trend line that applied for 11 years from 2009 through 2019.

Moreover, in statistical terms, that trend line is an exceptionally good fit. From 2009 to 2019, there were no great deviations from ‘actuals’ to trend line.

The big jump in the savings rate, resulting from ‘organic’ austerity measures while sheltering at home (i.e., cutbacks in travel, entertainment, etc.), plus income support initiatives, have provided the fuel to stoke up the spending splurge.

It’s noteworthy, though, that the take-off in U.S. retail sales has not been matched in Canada.

Canadian total retail sales from Graph 8 have fully recovered from their trip to previously unplumbed depths last year, but they are now nicely in line with what might be expected from their past pattern.

Other highlights from the U.S. retail sales numbers include the following.

Some of the biggest gains in shopkeeper receipts (Graph 2) have come about because the prices for the products they sell have galloped ahead as well. For example, gas station sales are +46.8% year over year, but that flows directly from the price of petrol being +49.6% y/y.

Sales by ‘furniture and home furnishing’ stores are +11.9% y/y. It’s not just a coincidence that the ‘furniture’ sub-index in the Consumer Price Index is +12.0% y/y.

Among all the shopkeeper categories appearing in Graph 2, ‘health and personal care’ stores are recording the weakest year-over-year sales growth, +7.4%. CVS has recently announced it will be closing hundreds of its outlets. One reason given is that the company currently has too many locations, and in some of them, mainly in downtown cores, there’s been a creeping shift towards dowdiness. CVS management feels a modernization drive has become necessary.

Also, striking a negative chord, a court ruling has found the big drugstore chains (CVS, Walgreens, Walmart) culpable in contributing to the opioid epidemic.

Also, concerning U.S. retail trade, and as if surviving the pandemic wasn’t challenging enough, ‘brick and mortar’ retailers in some cities (e.g., Louis Vuitton in Chicago and Nordstrom in San Francisco) have come under robbery assault by flash mobs.

And finally, from Graph 4, the mini boom in U.S. housing starts and the strong pick-up in home renovation projects lifted the sales of building material suppliers by a third year over year in the Spring of this year. A doubling in the price of lumber caught everyone’s attention.

But then sawmills were re-opened and home starts leveled off and the price of lumber eased back down again. But that may not be the end of the story. Only a little over two-thirds of the softwood product going into U.S. homes comes from domestic sources and the duties imposed on lumber being imported from Canada have just been adjusted upwards some more.

Graph 1: Total Retail Sales in the U.S. Monthly

U.S. total retail sales have roared back from their deep drop in Spring 2020. In fact, they are currently well above what one would expect from an extension of their 2009-2019 trend line.

The last data points are for October, 2021.
Adjusted for seasonality and trading day differences, but not for price changes (i.e., figures are in ‘current’ dollars).

Data source: U.S. Census Bureau (Department of Commerce).
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Graph 2: U.S. Retail & Food Services Sales Y/Y – October 2021

Non-store mainly Internet retail sales,  so robust during most of the pandemic (i.e., in Jan 2021, they were +33.4% y/y), have eased of late. In Oct, they were +10.2% y/y (although +4.0% m/m.)

‘Current dollars’ means not adjusted for inflation. Underlying numbers are seasonally adjusted & not ‘smoothed’.

Data source: U.S. Census Bureau.
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Graph 3: U.S. Motor Vehicle & Parts Sales Within Total Retail

According to the CPI, prices for new cars & trucks +9.9% y/y; for used cars & trucks, +26.4% y/y.

Latest data points are for October, 2021.

Data source: U.S. Census Bureau (Department of Commerce).
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Graph 4: Sales by U.S. Building Material & Supplies Dealers

The background numbers for this graph are a subset derived from a broader designation that includes garden equipment. Also, the reported data for sales by 'building material & supplies dealers' alone is always a month behind. Latest (Sept 2021) results were +6.5% y/y and +0.6% m/m.

Data source: Census Bureau.
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Graph 5: U.S. Monthly Sales by General Merchandise Stores vs Non-Store Retailers
(i.e., Internet Platforms & E-Auction Houses)

In Oct 2021, 'nonstore retail' sales of $91.7 billion were +10.2% year over year and +4.0% month to month; 'general merchandise store' sales of $72.7 billion were +15.9% y/y, but a relatively quiet +0.8% m/m.

Latest data points are for October, 2021.
Adjusted for seasonal variation, holiday and trading day differences, but not for price changes.

Data source: U.S. Census Bureau (Department of Commerce).
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Graph 6: U.S. Sales by Food Services & Drinking Places

In Oct, 'bar and restaurant' sales were a wonderful +29.3% year over year. On a month-to-month basis, though, they've been flat since July.

Latest data point is for October, 2021.
Adjusted for seasonal variation, holiday and trading day differences, but not for price changes.

Data source: U.S. Census Bureau (Department of Commerce).
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Canadian Retail Sales follow Steadier Path

Graph 7 takes monthly dollar volumes of total retail sales in the U.S. and Canada and turns them into indexed series.

For each country, the July 2009 dollar volume of total retail sales is adopted as the base and set equal to 100.0. (July 2009 was the first recovery month after the last recession.) The index value for each subsequent month is then its dollar volume divided by July 2009’s dollar volume, times 100.

Adopting the same base period and setting its level equal to 100.0 means the two series can be shown on the same graph with the same starting points. Relative performances after July 2009 become easy to visualize.  

From Graph 7, Canadian total retail sales kept up fine with their U.S. counterpart from July 2009 through early 2020. But then disaster, in the form of COVID-19, struck. U.S. total retail sales plunged to a position about halfway between their ten-year pickup from 2009 to 2019.

Canadian retail sales did much worse. They fell all the way back to where they’d been a decade earlier. The Canadian versus American descent was twice as severe.

Total retail sales in both countries managed quick rebounds. Nevertheless, it’s readily apparent that a significant and widening gap has developed between soaring U.S. results and the more measured progress being displayed in Canada.

It’s not clear, though, that Canada has something to worry about. From Graph 8, total Canadian retail sales are now moving along an upward sloping trajectory that roughly corresponds with what might be expected from observing 2009 to 2019’s gradual steady climb, before the pandemic blew up economic orthodoxy.

Some other points of interest from the Canadian retail sales numbers include the following.

‘Building material and garden equipment’ sales in Canada, after being ahead by as much as +71% year over year in April 2021, have now turned negative, -1.6%. This reflects the several months’ slide in housing start in Canada since they attained an all-time peak of 333,000 units, seasonally adjusted and annualized (SAAR), in March of this year.

Also, from an analyst’s point of view, there’s much to like about Graph 10. It records the monthly history of food services and drinking place sales in Canada. Phrased more colloquially, these are restaurant and bar sales.

Among pre-pandemic economic indicators, they showed a rare lack of volatility as they gradually inclined from 2009 through 2019. Then they succumbed to the whirlwind. Each of the successive waves of coronavirus-related lockdowns can be clearly identified and numbered from one to three so far. Encouragingly, the depths of the troughs have been diminishing.

Graph 7: Total Retail Sales Since ‘Great’ Recession, U.S. & Canada
Based on Data Adjusted for Seasonal, Holiday & Trading Day Differences

Canadian total retail sales were battered more severely than U.S. retail sales from February to April, 2020.

The latest released data point for the U.S. is October, 2021; for Canada, the data trails by a month, September 2021.

Data source: Statistics Canada and U.S. Census Bureau (Department of Commerce).
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Graph 8: Total Retail Sales in Canada

In Sept 2021, Cdn total retail sales were +4.8 y/y, but -0.6% m/m. June of last year was the first recovery month after the horrendous dip from March to May.

Latest data point is for September, 2021.

Data source: Statistics Canada Table 20-10-0078-01.
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Graph 9: Canada Motor Vehicle & Parts Sales Within Total Retail

Sept 21 = +1.4% y/y. As in the U.S., the market for used cars and trucks has become upbeat. Dealerships are offering excellent trade in values for some popular makes of cars, knowing they can resell them for a nice profit.

Latest data points are for September, 2021.

Data source: Statistics Canada.
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Graph 10: Canada Food Services & Drinking Places Sales*

Bar & restaurant sales in the latest reported month were +21.4% y/y & flat (0.0%) m/m.

*Better know as bar and restaurant sales.
Latest data point is for September 2021.

Data source: Statistics Canada Table 21-10-0019-01.
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Graph 11: Sales by Canadian Building Material & Garden Supplies Dealers

What a wild ride! The pandemic, accompanied by the 'work from home' trend and the housing starts boom, saw Canadian retail sales of building materials and garden equipment swing from -13.5% y/y in April 2020 to +70.9% y/y a year later (i.e., when  on the rebound) in April 2021.

*”Year over year” is each month versus the same month of the previous year.
Latest data point is for September, 2021.

Data source: Statistics Canada.
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Graph 12: Canada Retail Sales Y/Y – September 2021

Sales by bars & restaurants (yellow shading), which are categorized to consumer services rather than retail trade, were +21.4% y/y in September.

‘Current dollars’ means not adjusted for inflation. Underlying numbers are seasonally adjusted & not ‘smoothed’.

Data source: Statistics Canada.
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Graph 13: Retail Sales – Canada, Provinces & Cities
September 2021 Year-over-Year (Y/Y) & Shares

In Sept 2021, Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver combined for almost 1/3 (31.8%) of total Canadian retail sales. Nova Scotia (+14.1%) among the provinces & Vancouver (+10.3%) within the group of 3 major cities showed the most y/y improvement.

Based on ‘current’ dollars (i.e., not altered for inflation) that have been seasonally adjusted.

Data source: Statistics Canada.
Chart: ConstructConnect.


Alex Carrick is Chief Economist for ConstructConnect. He has delivered presentations throughout North America on the U.S., Canadian and world construction outlooks. Mr. Carrick has been with the company since 1985. Links to his numerous articles are featured on Twitter @ConstructConnx, which has 50,000 followers.

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Town planning officials give nod for building on disputed plot | Coimbatore News

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Coimbatore: The city corporation’s town planning officials have given a two-year extension for building approval for a residential house on a plot at Krishna Colony in the east zone after the intervention of the Madras high court.
The town planning approved the extension through an order dated October 6, 2021.
However, the building approval, which was given in 2016, was cancelled by the then corporation commissioner in 2019 after learning that the approval was obtained by fabricating documents.
The 2,796 square feet plot at Krishna Colony was part of the 30 feet road as per the layout approved by the DTCP. The worth of the plot is more than one crore rupee. The layout owned by the National Workers House Building and Benefit Society was approved by DTCP in 1977. Subsequently, 131 plots were earmarked and sold on the 13.4 acres.
D Robinson Selvam, who claims ownership of the disputed plot, is also the owner of plot numbers 62 and 63 located next to the disputed plot. He allegedly named the disputed plot as 62A and forged documents to get building approval, despite knowing that it was part of a road. He soon started constructing a building.
He approached the Madras high court in March 2021 complaining that officials had cancelled the building approval without giving him an opportunity to explain his position and to extend the building plan approval so that he could finish the construction activity.
According to activist S P Thiyagarajan, the high court in its order on August 16, 2021, directed officials to provide an opportunity for Robinson to explain his side and take a call based on legal standings. But the town planning officials had acted in favour of the applicant in haste instead of going by documents available, Thiyagarajan alleged.
He urged the corporation officials to take action against the town planning officials responsible for acting in favour of the violator and to demolish the under-construction building.
When contacted, deputy commissioner of city corporation Dr M Sharmila said that she has instructed officials to check the genuineness of documents submitted by the applicant. Appropriation decision will be taken on the issue, she said.

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Meet the New Faces of ‘Game of Thrones’

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HBO is taking us back to Westeros again, this time with more Targaryens, more fire and more blood. The network has a handful of Game of Thrones spinoffs in the works, but the first one, House of the Dragon, is set to premiere in a matter of months. Now, fans can meet the cast and prepare to love and hate their characters to various degrees.

House of the Dragon is based on a portion of Fire & Blood — a fictional history book written by George R.R. martin about the reign of House Targaryen over Westeros. It is set about 180 years before the events of the main book and covers a civil war fought between two factions of the Targaryens, both with dragon-riders on their sides. The main players have been cast, and some set photos have already been released, along with a brief teaser. Putting these together with the source material makes for an exciting teaser.

Fire and Blood covers about 130 years’ worth of history in Westeros, ending shortly after “the dance of the dragons” — the civil war that House of the Dragon will be about. It lays out all the major events but only in a historical style, not in a straightforward narrative. This means the show will only use about a third of the book’s content and will focus on a few years of the characters’ lives where the book describes them from birth to death.

Still, it is enough to introduce the main players and their roles in the conflict to come. There are plenty more characters that need to be cast or revealed, as well. House of the Dragon is expected to premiere sometime in 2022 on HBO. Fire and Blood is available now in print, digital and audiobook formats. In the meantime, here’s a look at who has been cast so far, and who they will be playing.

Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen

Paddy Considine will play King Viserys I Targaryen — after whom Daenerys’ brother is named in the main series. He is the fifth king of the Targaryen dynasty, taking over after his grandfather, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen passed away. Viserys is a dragon rider, though by the time he took the throne his dragon had passed away, and he never bonded another. He is also a widower and is described by Martin as an amiable man averse to conflict.

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Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen

Emma D’Arcy will play the king’s eldest child, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. Rhaenyra is the only living child from the king’s first marriage to Queen Aemma Arryn, so he publicly declared her his heir to the Iron Throne. However, King Viserys would later remarry and have more children, including boys. This will call Rhaenyra’s claim to the Iron Throne into question — something she is not happy about at all, and it is never wise to displease a dragon rider like the princess.

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Olivia Cooke as Lady Alicent Hightower

Alicent Hightower is the second wife of King Viserys I Targaryen, though she is closer in age to Princess Rhaenyra. She is an ambitious woman, eager to see her own sons on the Iron Throne in spite of the king’s earlier declaration that Rhaenyra is his heir.

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Steve Toussaint as Corlys ‘The Sea Snake’ Velaryon

Steven Toussaint has been cast as one of the most interesting characters in Fire and Blood — “The Sea Snake” Lord Corlys Velaryon, Lord of the Tides and Master of Driftmark. House Velaryon did not feature heavily in Game of Thrones, but in the books, it is an island-dwelling great house with close ties to House Targaryen. That’s because it too traces its ancestry back to Old Valyria — though its ancestors were never dragon riders.

Corlys is an old man by the time of the dance of the dragons, but the book details his entire life, including his travels around the entire known world. HBO is reportedly developing another spin-off series tentatively titled 9 Voyages, about the Sea Snake’s famous nine voyages away from Westeros. If that’s the case, Toussaint may have more work ahead of him than any of his castmates.

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Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen

Matt Smith will play the rogueish Prince Daemon Targaryen — another figure described from birth to death in Martin’s book, but who is middle-aged at the time of this story. Daemon is arrogant, ambitious and bloodthirsty, and rides the formidable dragon Caraxes. At one point before the dance of the dragon, he even declared himself “king” of a small island chain off the coast of Westeros.

In this story, Daemon may remind fans of Jaime Lannister in the original series. While he is undoubtedly a murderer and a warmonger, he seems to be pursuing a bit of redemption arc here. Hopefully, fans like the ending he receives better than the one Jaime got.

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Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower

Rhys Ifans will play Ser Otto Hightower — Lady Alicent’s father and a shrewd player of the “game of thrones.” Otto served as Hand of the King to Viserys’ predecessor, King Jaehaerys, and then to Viserys himself. He then bound himself to the throne even further by persuading the aging king to marry his own daughter in the hopes of having more children to protect the line of succession. Otto will continue playing these political games throughout House of the Dragon.

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Rhaenyra and Daemon

emma-d-arcy-matt-smith
(Photo: HBO )

One of the first set photos released shows D’Arcy and Smith in costume standing on a beach, which fans speculate may be the shore of Dragonstone, or perhaps the island of House Velaryon, Driftmark. Either way, seeing the silver-blonde wigs back in action finally made the adaptation feel real for many fans out there.

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The Sea Snake

steve-toussaint
(Photo: HBO )

Fans were also ecstatic to get a first look at Toussaint in costume as Lord Corlys Velaryon, one of the most interesting characters from Fire and Blood. Many had not imagined the character as Black in the books — though it makes sense and even enhances the story as Martin wrote in, in some ways. For book readers and casual viewers alike, “The Sea Snake” is sure to become a fan-favorite character.

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Alicent and Otto Hightower

olivia-cooke-rhys-ifans
(Photo: HBO)

Finally, the last photo released so far shows Cooke and Ifans in costume as Lady Alicent and Lord Otto Hightower, again on a mysterious beach. The inclusion of Otto in these early photos implies something about the story, letting fans know that the character may loom larger here than he did in the book. However, at its hear the war is between Rhaenyra and Alicent.

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To Be Cast

A few actors confirmed to be cast in House of the Dragon have not yet been featured in production photos — Eve Best as Princes Rhaenys Velaryon, Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole and Sonoya Mizuno as the mysterious Mysaria. Meanwhile, other key players remain to be cast — including the sons of both Princess Rhaenyra and Lady Alicent, and the contemporary leaders of all the great houses of Westeros. Fans are likely excited to meet Tyland Lannister, Cregan Stark, Borros Baratheon, and so on.

House of the Dragon is in production now, and is expected to premiere on HBO sometime in 2022. Fire and Blood is available now in print, digital and audiobook formats wherever books are sold.

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The Very Final Sets Blu-ray, DVD Release Date

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Gintama: The Very Final has set a date for its digital, Blu-ray and DVD release on shelves in North America! The final entry in Gintama’s anime franchise released earlier this year in Japan, and it brought the anime to an end much like Hideaki Sorachi brought the manga to an end last year. It adapted some material from the manga’s official ending but added new material for the movie to create an entirely new experience. Fans in North America finally got their chance to check out the new movie for themselves earlier this month in a limited screening, but now even more fans will be able to get their hands on it. 

Eleven Arts and Shout! Factory are collaborating on the official home video release for Gintama: The Very Final and it will first be releasing on digital download beginning on January 25, 2022. This will be followed by the Blu-ray and DVD combo pack releasing on February 8th next year as well. These releases include both English dubbed and the original Japanese language audio with English subtitles, and the Blu-ray and DVD combo comes with a few extras that fans might want to keep an eye out for such as an exclusive 16 page booklet featuring character art and storyboards. 

gintama-the-final-gintoki-1258902.jpg
(Photo: Eleven Arts)

The English dub cast returns from Gintama Season 3, and includes some major fan favorites. Eleven Arts and Shout! Factory describe Gintama: The Very Final as such, “Everything I’ve wanted to protect is right here with me in spirit. The countdown to destruction has begun! All will join to reclaim an Edo in grave peril! The Earth is facing its darkest days, and the members of the Odd Jobs must come together to save it from this otherworldly menace. 

Old allies Gintoki, Takasugi, and Katsura strive their hardest for their own ideals, but standing in their way is someone with whom they share a sad history: Utsuro, an alternate personality of their former teacher and mentor Shoyo. Having been spawned by Altana, the energy that fuels all planets, this immortal fiend has regenerated multiple times until finally becoming Utsuro, the ultimate enemy… And he intends to take down the entire Earth in order to end his own life. 

Gintoki and the others set out to fulfill the wishes of their teacher Shoyo and thwart Utsuro’s plans. Shinpachi, Kagura, the Shinsengumi, members of the Kabuki District, and even former enemies will join their fight. As Utsuro’s power grows, Takasugi fights for his very life. What does Gintoki, battered and bruised, see at the very end?Will he be able to put an end to all this?!” 

What do you think? Will you be nabbing Gintama: The Very Final when it releases on home video next year in North America? Let us know all of your thoughts about it in the comments! You can even reach out to me directly about all things animated and other cool stuff @Valdezology on Twitter!

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