Our HeadLines e-news service provides HdL clients with the most up-to-date information on trends affecting the economy and is meant to provide you with insight and support in your budget preparation and economic planning. 



U.S. Retail Sales Slow in July; Obstacles Mount for Nascent Economic Recovery

U.S. retail sales increased less than expected in July as consumers cut back on purchases of motor vehicles, and could slow further in the months ahead amid spiraling new COVID-19 infections and a reduction in unemployment benefit checks. Despite the moderation in retail sales reported by the Commerce Department, sales have recouped losses suffered when businesses were shuttered to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Retail sales rose 1.2% last month after advancing 8.4% in June. Sales increased 2.7% from a year ago in July. Read More


How Turning Malls into Fulfillment Centers Could Reshape Towns

As more shopping moves online, some property owners are looking for new uses for dying malls or former department stores. Based on where consumers’ dollars are shifting, one seemingly straightforward new use case for old retail space is to turn it into warehouses for e-commerce companies. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was in talks with Simon Property Partners to turn some former stores previously occupied by JCPenney and Sears into fulfillment centers for the e-commerce giant. Read More


Walmart's Online Sales Double as Pandemic Shapes Q2

Walmart's second quarter was once again defined by COVID-19, providing a mirror image to the world of "nonessential" retailers that, after having closed for months in some cases, carry more discretionary products during a time of both economic and public health uncertainty. Walmart, meanwhile, sells products that are most in demand during the pandemic. Comps in the grocery category were up by mid-single digits in Walmart's U.S. business during Q2, with record volumes for the retailer's pick up and delivery services. Read More


Kohl's Q2 Digital Sales Spike Nearly 60% Amid Omnichannel Push

Kohl's reported that second quarter total revenue dropped 23.1% year over year to $3.4 billion. Net sales fell 22.9% in the quarter to $3.2 billion, compared to a 3.3% decline in the same period last year. Digital sales grew 58%, according to a conference call presentation. The department store said it isn't reporting store comps due to pandemic-related store closures. Gross margin in the period shrank by 569 basis points to 33.1% from 38.8% a year ago. Read More


Bankrupted Stein Mart is Closing All of Its Stores

The off-price chain Stein Mart, which announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, will officially be closing all of its stores for good. The company’s liquidators — a team of Gordon Brothers, Hilco Merchant Resources, Tiger Capital Group,  B. Riley Financial’s Great American Group and SB360 Capital Partners — announced that Stein Mart is kicking off going-out-of-business sales at all of its 279 locations. Read More


Wayfair's Earnings Included a Wild Stat Showing How Much the Coronavirus has Changed Shopping Habits

While reporting quarterly sales that soared 84% over last year, Wayfair delved into how it has noticed shopper behavior evolve in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. CEO Niraj Shah said on Wayfair's earnings call that the online furniture company believes the pandemic "supercharged" a move to e-commerce that had already been in the works for several years. And, that has meant 5 million net new customers in the most recent quarter.  Read More



Alabama Tax Revenue Growth Helps Local Governments During Pandemic

Alabama’s tax revenues grew by nearly 6 percent in the first half of 2020 compared to the previous year, even with the economic downturn during the pandemic. This number includes revenue from the state sales tax and the Simplified Sellers Use Tax (SSUT) which is split between the state general fund and local governments in the state. House General Fund Chairman Rep. Steve Clouse said the SSUT revenue helped hold the general fund budget together during the pandemic.  Read More


AMC Movie Theaters Reopening in Alabama and Tickets Are Super Cheap

AMC, the nation’s largest movie theater chain, warned in June that it has uncertainty about its future beyond reopening. The company stated they are "generating no revenue from admissions, food and beverage sales which represent substantially all of our revenue and cash flow from operations." They plan to reopen more than 100 U.S. locations, including 16 of 18 Alabama theaters and promote a welcome back ticket discount special.  Read More


Concern for Alabama Businesses Amid Postponed College Football Season

The absence of college football this year portends major economic fallout. According to ESPN, canceling an entire college football season for Power Five schools could result in billions of dollars of revenue lost, with each school seeing an average loss of $62 million in football revenue alone. For local communities like Ann Arbor, Michigan and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, whose names are synonymous with the universities and college football programs they host, the economic impact could be devastating.  Read More



Georgia Tax Revenues Increase in July After Three Months of Red Ink

Georgia tax collections rebounded last month after a dismal second quarter, boosted by a delay in the normal income tax filing deadline from mid-April until mid-July. Tax revenues in July increased by $311.8 million over July of last year – or 17%. The state took in $23.7 billion for the fiscal year, down just 0.4%, a far better showing than expected. The more optimistic revenue picture now emerging might let the governor and legislature avoid additional reductions.   Read More


Tax Credit for Companies Making COVID-19 Protective Supplies Adopted in Georgia

Georgia businesses that make personal protective equipment like gloves, masks, gowns and hand sanitizer amid the COVID-19 pandemic are getting a new tax credit. With the new credit, businesses would be eligible for an additional $1,250 tax credit per job. The credit looks to be a boon for more than 250 businesses in Georgia that flipped the switch on their operations to churn out protective gear, including clothing manufacturers and breweries. It would apply to jobs created in those qualified companies through 2024.  Read More



Comptroller Glenn Hegar Distributes $909 Million in Monthly Sales Tax Revenue to Local Governments

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced he will send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $908.7 million in local sales tax allocations for August which is 3.6 percent more than in August 2019. These allocations are based on sales made in June by businesses that report tax monthly and on sales made in April, May and June by quarterly filers.  Read More


Texas Sales Tax Revenue Up in July

After months of staying home, Texas consumers went back to stores earlier this summer, helping bring in nearly $3 billion in state sales tax collections in July, a 4.3 percent increase over the same month last year. “We’re seeing resilience and grit in Texas businesses as they reopen or find new ways to serve their customer base,” Aaron Cox, Chief Operating Officer at the Texas Association of Business, told The Center Square.  Read More


Texas Sales Tax Holiday: Retailers Just as Excited as Shoppers Amid COVID Slowdown

Department stores and specialty shops hosted a sales tax holiday weekend. Retailers looked forward to it even more than the shoppers who stood to save money on school supplies and clothing. That's because those retailers were still struggling to recover from the weeks-long shutdown this spring as Texas sought to stem the spread of COVID-19. The offers were good for online shopping as well for those who wished to avoid crowds.  Read More


Stein Mart Files for Bankruptcy With Plans to Close All Its Stores

Stein Mart, which warned in June that it had “substantial doubt” that it could survive the pandemic, has filed for bankruptcy. Texas is one of Stein Mart’s biggest states with 41 stores, including 15 in North Texas. There are two stores in Dallas, Arlington, Plano and Fort Worth and one each in Flower Mound, Frisco, Hurst, Irving, Keller, McKinney and Rockwall. The department store chain expects to close all of its stores by the fourth quarter with closings taking place on a staggered basis as merchandise is sold.  Read More


Amazon Adding Hundreds of Tech, Corporate Jobs in North Texas

Amazon is planning to add more than 600 new tech and corporate jobs in Dallas. "We are proud to create 600 new jobs on top of the thousands of roles we've created over the last several years in the Dallas/Fort Worth area across our tech offices and logistics infrastructure. We are drawn to this region by its highly-skilled workforce and culture of innovation," said Alberto Bayarena, Site Lead of Amazon's Dallas Tech Hub.  Read More


Highway Investments Are Essential to Texas’ Economic Recovery

The Texas Transportation Commission awards hundreds of millions of dollars in highway improvement projects every month — including $835 million in July — to improve mobility across the state. Those projects will be under construction for the next several years, providing thousands of jobs and adding to the economic vitality of local communities. Completed transportation projects enhance the state’s long-term economic competitiveness.  Read More



Podcast: Strong Towns

In his podcast "Leaders In Local Government," HdL consultant Stephen Morris interviews Chuck Marohn, the Founder and President of Strong Towns - an organization that supports thousands of people across the United States and Canada who are advocating for a radically new way of thinking about the way we build our world. Chuck, a professional engineer and land use planner, is passionate about building our cities and towns the right way - from the bottom up.  Listen Here


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