Get ready for sparse clearance shelves – retailers have fewer leftovers to discount

shopping appliances discount sale
  • Retailers are having a difficult time keeping shelves fully stocked.
  • The shortages leave fewer items like clothes or appliances for clearance racks.
  • That makes it even more difficult for consumers to find relief from rising prices.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If your shopping trips seem to be a bit more expensive lately, it’s likely that your receipt shows something missing: discounts.

Likewise, if your visit to any store typically includes a lap past the clearance shelves, you may have noticed the pickings getting slim.

“Retailers facing tight inventories are having a tough time keeping shelves stocked with new stuff,” Axios Markets’ Sam Ro noted. “This means there’s less stuff that’ll get marked down and moved to clearance sections.”

In other words, shortages of cars, clothes, and computer chips translates into a shortage of deals, too.

That may sound obvious when stated plainly, but surpluses and discounts have traditionally been a fact of American retail that shoppers could take for granted. There are even entire business models like TJX and built around it.

Data released last week by the US Census show that while sales have ticked up, inventories have not, leaving retailers in many sectors with a lot less on their shelves than they would like.

Across all businesses – manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers – the inventory-to-sales ratio reached a multi-year low in May of 1.26, which means they have about five weeks of product available, compared with a pre-pandemic trend closer to six weeks.

The effects are more dramatic among retailers, which have closer to four weeks of inventory on average.

Certain retail categories are a lot tighter this year than they were last year, namely: vehicles and parts; furniture and appliances; clothing and accessories; and department stores.

Clothing stores saw the biggest swing as the pandemic saddled them with more than six months of stuff to sell in May 2020, and now they have less than two months’ worth.

Bargains are unlikely to return any time soon, since delivery times are getting even longer, making it that much harder for stores to stay stocked ahead of consumer demand.

The increase in suppliers’ delivery times also suggests that prices will continue to go up this summer, as the metric is commonly used to predict inflation, per IHS Markit’s Chief Business Economist Chris Williamson.

With any luck, you might have a promotional coupon that’s still valid.

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From sausage to sewing machines, here are the everyday products and services that have gone up the most in price since last year

grocery shopping
  • Prices for American consumers increased 0.9% last month, the largest increase in a decade.
  • Used cars have made headlines, while others, like sewing machines, have caused less of a stir.
  • Products and services in over 45 categories had price increases of more than 5%.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Consumer prices are rising, ticking up by 0.9% last month. That’s the largest increase in more than a decade, according to the latest US government figures.

But that figure is just a summary of the overall price picture for American households – the important stuff is in the details.

To see how that top-line number is playing out in everyday life, Insider pored through the tables and plucked out more than 45 product and service prices that have increased by more than 5% since last year.


Bacon and pork prices are up.

  • Bacon +8.4%
  • Other Pork +6.5%
  • Fresh Seafood +6.4%
  • Whole Milk +7.5%
  • Apples +6.5%
  • Citrus Fruits +9.5%
  • Other Fruit +8.7%
  • Lettuce +5.1%
  • Fast Food +6.2%
  • Vending machine snacks +5.7%

Read more: Why you’re paying more for beef, pork, and eggs right now and when prices are expected to go back down


A woman holds a pump nozzle in her hand at a gas station and refuels a car.
People are paying more at the pump.

  • Fuel Oil +44.5%
  • Propane, Kerosene, and Firewood +17.7%
  • Gasoline +45.1%

Read more: How much gas costs in different regions of the US

Home Items

home depot customer shopper washing machines
Household appliances are getting more expensive.

  • Carpets +5.3%
  • Household Furniture +8.6%
  • Washers and Dryers +29.4%

Read more: Wealthy homeowners are dropping nearly $40,000 on luxury stoves that won’t arrive for months. It’s a symptom of a broader appliance shortage hampering homeowners and industry insiders alike.

Clothes and Accessories

levi's jeans
Shoppers are refreshing their wardrobes.

  • Men’s Pants and Shorts +11.1%
  • Boys’ Apparel +5.5%
  • Women’s Outerwear +8.4%
  • Women’s Dresses +15.8%
  • Girls’ apparel +5.5%
  • Shoes +6.5%
  • Watches +7.8%
  • Jewelry +12.3%

Read more: Levi’s CEO says our lockdown weight fluctuations are driving sales for the brand


Comprehensive Car Insurance
The chip shortage is creating all sorts of issues in the autos market.

  • New Trucks +5.7%
  • Used Cars and Trucks +45.2%
  • Tires +5.2%

Read more: Used Corvettes are worth $26,000 more than they were new last year. Here are 8 more used cars that gained value since 2020.


United Airlines Planes Landing
Air travel is coming back strong.

  • Hotels and Motels +16.9%
  • Domestic Services +10.6%
  • Moving and Storage +17.3%
  • Car and Truck Rental +87.7%
  • Car Insurance +11.3%
  • Airline Fares +24.6%
  • Cable and Satellite +TV 5.1%
  • Vet Services +5.2%
  • Delivery Services +7.7%
  • Land-line phone service +6.4%

Read more: All the things that will make your summer vacation more expensive this year

Other Stuff

seamstress, sewing machine
Supplies for hobbies and home arts and crafts are more expensive.

  • Televisions +7.6%
  • Sporting goods +7.5%
  • Cameras +5.6%
  • Sewing Machines and Supplies +13.3%
  • Cigarettes +7.3%

Read more: Here’s everything that could get more expensive in 2021

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As gas soars to its highest price in 7 years, a shortage of tank truck drivers may leave some stations without any this holiday weekend

gas station
A man fills up a car at a filling station.

  • Gas prices are at an almost 7 year high, at about $3.10 a gallon for regular.
  • An estimated 47 million Americans are expected to travel by car this weekend, AAA reported.
  • They may not find gas at stations due to a tank truck driver shortage, CNN reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gas prices will be the highest they’ve been in nearly seven years and some gas stations may not even have any, CNN reported.

The average cost for a regular gallon is the highest since October 2014 at about $3.10.

GasBuddy Head of Petroleum Analysis Patrick de Hann said that the high price is likely to remain high after the holiday weekend.

Additionally, a shortage of tank truck drivers who drive gas to stations could mean some stations may not have any gas at all.

Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service, told CNN the shortages are spread out across the country.

“It used to be an afterthought for station owners to schedule truck deliveries. Now it’s job No. 1,” Kloza told CNN. “What I’m worried about for July is the increased demand works out to about 2,500 to 3,000 more deliveries needed every day. There just aren’t the drivers to do that.”

De Hann said the demand for oil is still the same, so the lack of gas at stations is simply due to the shortage of drivers.

More than 47 million Americans are expected to travel by car this July 4 weekend, AAA is forecasting.

Klonza told CNN that not finding gas at stations could mean people start topping off their tanks more frequently, which may in and of itself cause a shortage down the line.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Car sellers are suddenly earning a profit on vehicles with broken engines and frames, as tight auto supply sends prices soaring to record levels

Used car sale dealership
Car dealership.

  • A lack of supply of new vehicles pushed used car prices to record highs in May.
  • The CEO of an online marketplace told Forbes he’s paying a premium price for damaged cars.
  • “We’re making money on these because auction pricing is so intense and high,” he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It’s no secret that the used car market is absolutely bonkers lately, but demand has gotten so strong and supply so tight that one dealer says he’s now buying cars he previously would never have considered.

“We’ve been seeing things clear at 103%, 110% to MMR (Manheim Market Report)- cars that we bring in we would never sell that are damaged, like frame damage or need massive engine rebuild,” said Toby Russell, co-CEO at online used vehicle marketplace, in an interview with Forbes.

“Normally we would lose a little money on that, but we’re making money on these because auction pricing is so intense and high. It’s just a total dislocation in the market caused by a surge in demand and lack of supply coming from new cars,” he said.

Russell told Forbes that Shift now pays 25% more for vehicles than it did a the start of the year.

“That’s like crazy,” he said. “Usually used cars will depreciate 1% per week but the car sitting in your driveway is likely to be worth 25-30% more than it was in January.”

At the start of May, used-vehicle prices reached an all-time high, topping more than $22,500, according to a Cox Automotive analysis of vAuto Available Inventory data.

“Given the strong demand from consumers, and the tight supply situation, it seems likely that used-vehicle prices, already at all-time highs, will continue to rise,” said Charlie Chesbrough, Cox Automotive senior economist. “At some point, prices will become too high, and demand will recede. But we are not there yet.”

The supply of used vehicles on dealers’ lots is less than half of what it was this time last year (fewer people were buying cars then), and it’s also well below the same month in 2019.

As sales taper off from their frenetic pace earlier in the spring, Chesbrough says there’s a simple reason for the slowdown: “Folks can’t buy what isn’t there.”

Jonathan Banks, vice president of Valuations Services at J.D. Power, said used retail prices are up 15% this year with no signs of backing down.

“Used-vehicle prices have shown no signs of softening and are expected to remain exceptionally strong for the foreseeable future,” he said.

If you are looking to buy or sell a car and have a story to share, contact this reporter at

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Companies like Clorox, General Mills, and Whirlpool are sounding the alarm on price hikes for products like trash bags, breakfast cereal, and household appliances as production costs increase

groceries self checkout supermarket grocery
  • Americans are continuing to feel the pinch from rising prices on a number of staple products.
  • Certain food items, household products, appliances, cars, and homes are all seeing prices surge.
  • The Federal Reserve has said that it believes the price spikes are temporary.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Americans are likely to experience some sticker shock as prices for key products spike due to rising demand and supply chain snags.

The Wall Street Journal recently cited leaders from companies like Clorox, General Mills, and Whirlpool sounding the alarm on price spikes for products like breakfast cereal, trash bags, and household appliances. Reasons for rising prices run from pent-up demand due to rising vaccination rates, pandemic-related delays, manufacturing issues around key components like computer chips, and logistical tangles.

The Consumer Price Index spiked 0.8% in April, signalling a 4.2% year-over-year surge in prices. That means that Americans could feel a pinch when paying for meats like bacon and hot dogs, imported foods like cheese and wine, and fuel – also thanks in part to a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline in the southeast.

And skyrocketing prices are affecting a number of aspects of consumer’s lives, outside of trips to the grocery store and the gas station. Used cars and trucks saw a record-breaking 10% price jump in April, partly due to an increased demand and a computer chip shortage. The red-hot home market has seen significant price surges, with a year over year increase of 11.3% in March. That’s been tied to a massive increase in lumber prices, which are around 85% year-to-date.

But so far, the Federal Reserve has declined to introduce new policy around inflation. Speaking at a press conference in late April, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that inflation readings “are likely to rise somewhat further before moderating.”

“We are also likely to see upward pressure on prices from the rebound in spending as the economy continues to reopen, particularly if supply bottlenecks limit how quickly production can respond in the near term,” he said. “However, these one-time increases in prices are likely to have only transitory effects on inflation.”

Wharton professor Jeremy Siegel accused Powell of being far too “dovish” on inflation.

“I’m predicting here that over the next two, three years we could easily have 20% inflation,” he said on CNBC.

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Brent oil will climb 17% from current levels as demand outpaces supply, Goldman Sachs says

FILE PHOTO: The sun sets behind a crude oil pump jack on a drill pad in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, U.S. November 24, 2019.  REUTERS/Angus Mordant
The sun sets behind a crude oil pump jack on a drill pad in the Permian Basin in Loving County

  • Brent oil should rise to $70 during the second quarter and to $75 in the third quarter, said Goldman Sachs in a research note Monday. 
  • OPEC and its allies will likely increase production at its March meeting but that still may fall short of Goldman’s demand forecast. 
  • Global oil demand should hit 100 million barrels per day by late July, the investment bank says. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Brent oil should jump 17% from current levels to $75 per barrel this summer, with Goldman Sachs expecting a lag in supply relative to demand to support a further gain in prices.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies next month are poised to agree to boost production but the investment bank said the increase will likely fall short of its demand forecast.

Goldman Sachs now expects Brent to reach $70 in the second quarter and $75 in the third quarter, with each forecast raised by $10 per barrel. The investment bank’s call would represent a 17% upside from Brent’s intraday high of $63.94 in its continuous contract.

The “cross-asset oil outperformance this year remains driven by fundamentals, with better than expected demand and still depressed supply once again creating a larger deficit than even we expected in January and February, and with timespreads strengthening,” said Goldman Sachs in a research note published Monday and led by senior commodity strategist Damien Courvalin.

Brent oil prices have jumped about 23% this year after starting 2021 at nearly $52 per barrel. The vaccination of millions of people worldwide to curb the spread of COVID-19 has bolstered expectations that more businesses will reopen, which in turn brighten the outlook for oil demand.

OPEC next month appears ready to raise its oil production quotas by 500,000 barrels a day beginning in April, with Goldman Sachs saying its base case also includes Saudi Arabia reversing its production cut of 1 million barrels a day, a unilateral move announced in January.

“This remains however well below the 2.4 [million barrels per day] increase in demand we forecast from now to April — with as a result an agreement to hike production not bearish in our view,” said Goldman Sachs. “In fact, these barrels would arrive a month later at destination by which point we expect demand would have risen an additional 0.2 mb/d, further tightening the spot oil market.”

Goldman also said it has seen no signs of higher activity among most non-OPEC+ producers outside of North America, which creates risks that output will fall short of its demand forecasts by 900,000 barrels per day over the coming year.

Global oil demand should reach 100 million barrels a day by late-July, said Goldman Sachs, which would be sooner than its previous forecast for oil to reach that level in August.

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