Retailers’ troubles ripple across the nation

In the world of shopping centers, strip malls and the cities that house them, a closed Ann Taylor here or an out-of-business Circuit City there might not matter much.

But the timing and immensity of the current downturn in retail is dire, and not just for the employees who lose jobs, the company shareholders and the shoppers who no longer can buy from their favorite stores. Cities — entire regions, even — that boomed as Americans shopped till they almost dropped for more than a decade are struggling mightily because spending has almost slammed to a stop.

The resulting store closures (150,000 are expected this year), steep declines in sales taxes collected by cities and states and the plethora of empty buildings are wreaking havoc on budgets, wrecking town center plans and ruining dreams for revitalization.

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Detroit area led nation in foreclosures in 2007


LOS ANGELES – The Detroit area, hit hard by the double-whammy of unemployment and a slumping housing market, had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation last year, with several cities in California ranked close behind, an analysis of foreclosure activity in the country’s largest 100 metropolitan areas shows.

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The following link will take you to a photo essay of some of the more depressed areas of Detroit:

Congress passes stimulus bill and sends to Bush


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Congress passed a nearly $152 billion plan on Thursday to stave off an election-year recession by sending government rebate checks to millions of Americans and providing business tax incentives to boost spending.

Moving quickly to get the economic package to President George W. Bush, the House of Representatives passed the bill by 380-34, just hours after the Senate cleared the measure on a vote of 81-16. Bush is expected to sign the bill next week.

The legislation will provide one-time rebates of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for couples, plus $300 for each child. Low-income people, including retirees on Social Security and disabled veterans who pay no income taxes, would receive checks of $300. The rebates would start to phase out for people with taxable incomes of more than $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples.

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Movie Gallery closes 400 more stores

movie-gallery.jpgThe announcement had been expected; Movie Gallery had asked permission from the U.S. bankruptcy court to pay incentives to employees to help close stores.

In that motion, Movie Gallery said its current store total is 3,640.

The company, which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in October, stated in a Feb. 5 Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the closings are necessary, “due to continued weakness in the company’s industry, to conserve cash and reduce the company’s overall cost structure.”

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