Rabo: For Traditional Retailers The Outlook Is Indeed Black

By Michael Every of Rabobank

None More Black

Ian: Here it is, lads! “Smell The Glove”…gather round….Where’s David?… David, David, get up here!

Derek: David, “Smell The Glove” is here.

Ian: The moment we’ve all been waiting for…Here we go, plenty for everybody…here you are.

David: I never thought I’d see…I never thought I’d live to see the day.

Ian: What do you think?

Derek: Is this the test pressing?

Ian: No, this is it, yes, that’s right…

David: This is “Smell The Glove” by Spinal Tap….

Ian: That’s “Smell The Glove” that’s the jacket cover, it’s going out across the country in every store.

David: This is the compromise we made…this is the compromise you made?

Ian: Yes.

Derek: Is it going to say anything here, or here along the spine?

David: It’s not going to say anything?

Ian: No, it’s not going to say anything.

Nigel: It’s going to be like this, all black…

Ian: No, it’s going to be that simple, beautiful, classic!

David: Does look a little bit like, you know, black leather…

Derek: You can see yourself in… both sides.

David: I feel so bad, I feel so bad about this…

Nigel: It’s like a black mirror.

David: Well, I think it looks like death…it looks like mourning. I mean it looks…

Ian: David, David, every movie, in every cinema is about death; death sells!

Nigel: I think he’s right, there is something about this, that’s so black, it’s like; “How much more black could this be?”…and the answer is: “None, none… more black.”

David: I think, like you’re, like rationalizing this whole thing like into something you did on purpose. I think we’re stuck with a very, very stupid and a very, and a very dismal looking album,… this is depressing.

Nigel: David!

David: This is something you wear around your arm, you don’t put this on your turntable.

Nigel: David, it’s a choice.

Ian: I frankly think that this is the turning point, okay? I think, I think this is…we’re on our way now.

Who can argue with the immortal wisdom on Spinal Tap, and what else needs to be said about today? This is Black Friday in the US, and there have been None More Black. (For those younger readers who haven’t seen Spinal Tap, ‘Smell the Glove’ was a pure black LP with nothing written on it at all, title, band-name, tracks, etc., just pure shiny black on both sides; for those who haven’t seen an LP, it was a 12” vinyl disk inside an artistic cover that was how most rock music was stored before CDs and on-line music, and was highly tactile and collectible; and those who haven’t seen rock music, it was hairy guys with guitars, bass, and drums making a lot of great noise; and to link all three in a life-imitating-art kind of way, see Metallica’s 1991 album ‘Metallica’.)

It’s none more black not just because of the grim Covid backdrop; not just due to the crazy, crazy bargains on offer; not just down to the desire by those who have not been spending much in 2020 to splurge in a US cultural meme best captured by the South Park ‘Black Friday’ trilogy (episodes 7, 8, and 9 of season 17); but rather because Black Friday is going to be more online than ever, and so for traditional retailers the outlook is indeed black (one can imagine a future version of this daily: “For those younger readers who haven’t seen shops…”); and because it will show just how black, or red, the outlook is for US consumption and so GDP going forwards. Furthermore, Black Friday is also increasingly global, with more and more countries trying to do the same (the UK, for one).

Frankly, we don’t have a lot to do today other than wait for the media anecdotes to start flooding in of what an ‘amaaaaaazing’ level of sales specific parts of the global economy are seeing. So watch Spinal Tap or play some rock music and turn the volume up to 11, why not? Yet there is real news elsewhere if you want it:

  • China has slapped 107% – 212% tariffs on Australian wine today, to take effect from tomorrow. That’s a very black outlook for many Aussie wine producers, obviously. Australia will of course appeal to the WHO. China, being such a big fan of free trade and multilateral institutions, is certain to move rapidly to comply with whatever the WHO eventually says, of course. AUD didn’t mind at all: it’s once again thinking of other things, such as all the Black Friday-ness ahead.
  • The EU and UK are still on the edge of the precipice on a Brexit deal. Talks are going to restart tomorrow, apparently, while Bloomberg reports that “Brexit Britain’s Food Supply Is Imperilled by Christmas and Covid”. Wot, no sprouts? (Actually, no tinned tomatoes or olives, baby-food or wine, more likely. Mmm, who has extra wine right now?…but the issue is free warehouse space and not physical supply, sadly for Australia.)
  • Poland and Hungary have decided that they will make a joint stand against the EU’s insistence on a rule-of-law conditionality in its USD2.0 trillion fiscal stimulus (the one that hasn’t arrived yet, is arguably too small, and yet which the market has been fully pricing in for months): both will veto it. The EU could push ahead via a qualified majority of its members for at least the EUR750bn coronavirus fund, but that would leave the EU operating under an emergency monthly budget rather than something more expansive going forwards. We already see the same thing in Israel, for different reasons, and the US is also short of fiscal stimulus, and it’s not doing wonders for the growth outlook there.

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