RIP: The Limited. Plus — Dow tries for 20,000…again

The Limited is just the latest retail casualty of many. Markets remain nervous as Obamacare, Trump Inauguration, Regime Change lead to hope and uncertainty.

Chuck Schumer and his Flying Circus trash Republican efforts to repair or replace the sinking ship of Obamacare with a sophomoric bit of street theater. (Screen capture of AP YouTube video)

WASHINGTON, January 10, 2017 – Fashion-forward investors will be sad to learn that, after a long and often successful run, what’s left of The Limited, a once popular women’s apparel chain, is now defunct, according to Fortune and other sources. Says Fortune:

“Women’s apparel chain The Limited on Sunday began closing all 250 of its stores across the United States and is slashing 4,000 jobs, the latest casualty of shopping’s move online and the growth of fast fashion chains.

“And just like Chico’s, Ann Taylor and other women’s apparel stores struggling with big drops in sales, The Limited has been struggling with shifts in consumer behavior and interest, a greater number of rivals and longer store leases.

“‘In an increasingly challenging environment for mall-based retail and women’s apparel, we are very disappointed that the company has had to make the difficult decision to close its retail locations,’ the company’s private equity [owner], Sun Capital said in a statement.”

Checking out The Limited’s website gets you a terse confirmation of the funeral arrangements:

This isn’t goodbye…

“We’re sad to say that all The Limited stores nationwide have officially closed their doors.

“But this isn’t goodbye.

“The styles you love are still available online – We’re just a quick click away 24 hours a day.”

Chances are, they’ll only be available as long as there’s dead merchandise left to liquidate.

There have been times over the past 25 years or so during which the Maven has wondered aloud how many of these women’s fashion boutiques would actually survive as long as, say, Sears, that legendary department and catalog chain that’s also currently limping along as yet another dead retailer walking.

The real problem with bricks and mortar retail these days is twofold.

  1. In our soon-to-be-ended but difficult-to-salvage-and-repair Obamanation economy—in which real jobs have been a sometime thing for most Deplorable Americans—who actually has the surplus funds to keep buying the latest useless crap being peddled by the mass fashion industry?

Macy’s, Kohl’s and numerous other retailers reported a lackluster Christmas season, clearly demonstrating that the issues with retail sales are not only affecting apparel and soft goods but consumer durables as well.

Given the economy, demographics and a host of other issues, the retail sector will continue to struggle, at least short term. That means that, given stock prices and current economic conditions, any chance at profitability (and increasing stock prices) may be limited to discounters like Walmart (symbol: WMT), the various dollar stores and to that eminently survivable pair of home improvement giants, Lowes (LOW) and, of course, Godzilla, otherwise known as Home Depot (HD).

In other words, The Limited, Sears, et. al., are telling us to tread cautiously in the retail stock universe for now.

Meanwhile, here in Washington, the current political cartoon cavalcade continues unabated and is likely having a negative effect on January market action. Last week, for example, new Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chucky Schumer mounted a laughable anti-GOP street theater piece entitled “Make America SICK Again.”

Schumer’s antics, supported by the usual left-wing dead-enders of his party, primarily involved ripping a page out of his despicable predecessor Harry Reid’s obstructionist playbook, denouncing Republican efforts to rescue the nation from that healthcare shipwreck otherwise known as Obamacare. What a pathetic joke this fake scenario is. It proves that the Democrats simply can’t abandon the street theater politics they revved up to bring down Lyndon Johnson back in the 1960s. No hugging, no learning. Ever.

Schumer and his motley crew also can’t wait to slander Trump’s cabinet nominees and kill their chances at heading up and de-politicizing DC’s raft of dysfunctional agencies. But wait. They can’t do that. Harry Reid fixed it so they can’t filibuster the nominees. Oh, well…

Finally, violence and demonstrations are planned for Inauguration Week, the better to spoil the Republicans’ victory party, since, as we all know, the only legitimate elected officials in Washington are Democrats. This will include a Million… perhaps Billion Women March the day after the Inaugural festivities. That is, if the inevitable mob of Soros-paid #BlackLivesMatters thugs leave any stone standing in DC.

All of which, we suspect, has investors hanging back a bit before committing to new investments post-Obama after a wild 2016 holiday season rally took nearly everyone by surprise.

We don’t mind the market’s current slightly negative churn, although stocks are attempting to rally as we write this around 2 p.m. ET. The more the markets move sideways, the more likely the rally will resume in earnest. But amidst a political sea change like the one we’re about to experience, nothing is certain, so we remain cautious ourselves. Cautiously optimistic.

Once we get through Inaugural Week, the smoke should start to clear, particularly if President Trump keeps his word and obliterates the bulk of Obama’s destructive tsunami of job-destroying executive orders on Inauguration Day. That would be a productive start indeed for Making America Great Again. Wall Street might even agree. Unless Obama grants every known felon an executive pardon on his way out the door.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17