New York Post

Amazon retail wreckage by the numbers


HOW much damage has Amazon done to the rest of the retailing industry? A lot — and I have the numbers to prove it.

Amazon is now worth roughly $483 billion — and its stock has traded above $1,000 a share for the last few days, up 37 percent over the past year.

In fact, Amazon was worth “only” $30.8 billion 10 years ago.

So if you are an Amazon investor, you are probably saying, “Hallelujah, we are rich, rich, rich.”

But there’s another side to the Amazon rise to power. And it’s not just in the number of sales lost by other retailers to the internet Goliath.

I asked David Aurelio, senior research analyst for Thomson Reuters, to determine how much value the rest of the retailing industry has lost while Amazon’s shares have been ascending.

Today, for instance, a group of 35 retailers in the apparel business are worth $110.6 billion, according to Aurelio. That’s down from $135.9 billion a year ago.

I have to mention that all of these figures are based on publicly traded companies in each area of retailing. But the figures don’t include companies, public and private, that may have gone out of business.

Put those failed companies into the equation, and the lost equity would have been even larger.

Automotive retailers (19 of them) are now worth a cumulative $66.6 billion compared with $88.3 billion last year; seven department stores companies, now worth $25.4 billion versus $31.4 billion; and 27 distributo­rs are worth $29.6 billion compared with $32.7 billion.

General merchandis­e stores (six of them) are down to just $67.5 billion in value compared with $94.8 billion in 2016, and 10 companies in food retailing — an area that Amazon just entered, amid antitrust concerns (see “The Big-Game Hunter” on the opposite page) — are worth $41 billion compared with $55.6 billion last year.

Amazon, of course, isn’t responsibl­e for all this damage. The US economy hasn’t been performing well, so some of the 156 companies in Aurelio’s search could be suffer- ing from consumer skittishne­ss in addition to Amazon-itis.

But on the other hand, these valuations were dropping at a time when the stock market as a whole was rising thanks to the Federal Reserve’s easy monetary policy.

Some areas of retailing haven’t been hurt by Amazon.

The eight companies in the computer and electronic­s retailing business saw their cumulative valuations rise to $20.1 billion from $14.1 billion last year. And the two home improvemen­t retailers in the calculatio­n are now worth $247.9 billion, up from $238.5 billion in 2016.

Electronic­s have been an area shielded from Amazon’s clout because of consumer loyalty to companies like Apple. Consumers may be less likely to buy home improvemen­t products on Amazon because of their size and weight.

But Amazon is undoubtedl­y an equity killer. When you put all the 157 companies Aurelio used in his analysis — including Amazon — Jeff Bezos’ behemoth is now worth 17.5 percent of the total.

A year ago, Amazon was only 12.2 percent of the total capitaliza­tion. Three years ago, it was just 6.7 percent, and 10 years ago only 1.7 percent of the total. And Bezos is well on his way to becoming the richest person on the planet.

There’s probably a lesson in here somewhere, but I have to go. The UPS guy is at my door delivering some porcelain paint I just bought from … well, you know.

What spooked Janet Yellen so much that the Federal Reserve chair decided last week to ease up on talk about rate hikes?

Yellen probably got wind of the fact that the US economy is slowing down even though it didn’t have much speed to begin with.

Two days after Yellen’s surprising dovishness about rates on Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales fell for the second straight month.

Friday’s announceme­nt said sales fell 0.2 percent. A gain of 0.1 percent was expected.

May’s sales figures were revised to a loss of 0.1 percent from a loss of 0.3 percent.

Gas stations, clothing stores and supermarke­ts all contribute­d to June’s lousy numbers, as did cutbacks in spending at restaurant­s and bars and on hobbies.

And if your hobby was eating out, you were really a contributo­r to the awfulness.

The Fed is having problems raising interest rates because the economy is weak, and the economy is weak because people don’t want to spend.

But here’s the irony in all this: Many people — and they are called savers — aren’t spending because interest rates are too low and they are being deprived of income on their savings accounts.

So, to bring it full circle, the Fed can’t raise interest rates because the Fed hasn’t raised rates. The secret tax on savers in the form of low rates on their accounts is the heart of the problem.

What about the money being made in the stock market, which keeps hitting record highs? Profits in the market aren’t nearly as liquid as savings accounts. Again, my solution: Change the law so that people can immediatel­y use some of the money tied up in retirement accounts to, at the very least, invest in real estate.

Since much of the market’s accumulate­d wealth is in retirement accounts, that might solve the problem.

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