In other news, General Electric says the company is permanently cutting 13,000 jobs from its aviation unit because the pandemic has annihilated the airline industry.
Meanwhile, J. Crew has become the first major retail chain to file for bankruptcy because of the virus. Crew also employed 13,000.
Finally, ratings agencies are projecting that consumer demand will still be weak in December and holiday shopping sales could drop by 10 percent even under a best-case scenario.
In a best-case scenario, retailers who shuttered their locations to slow the spread of the coronavirus would start operating them again in May and June. But many chains in hard-hit discretionary categories, like apparel, would still see sales fall 5% to 10% during the holiday shopping season from a year ago, according to Fitch, the ratings company.
The reasons are many. Unemployment will remain high because lots of furloughed workers won’t be brought back as companies cut costs or don’t reopen. A downturn in consumer psychology will boost an already-high savings rate. And the risk of a second outbreak of the virus in the fall will hang over everything.
“We’re assuming the customer is pretty slow to come back to all these stores,” said David Silverman, an analyst for Fitch, which recently downgraded chains such as Victoria’s Secret owner L Brands Inc. “Things might not be completely fine until there is a vaccine, and that could take a year or more.” [...]
Even with essential retailers like Walmart Inc. and Home Depot Inc. remaining open, U.S. store visits fell 98% in April, according to Prodco.
If a wider outbreak is coming as the CDC is projecting, I think this will look too optimistic in hindsight.