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F E D E R A L R E SE R V E BANK O F RICHMOND
General Business and Agricultural Conditions in the
Fifth Federal Reserve District
By CALDWELL HARDY, Chairman and Federal Reserve Agent

RICHMOND, V IR G IN IA , M A Y 31, 1921

When price declines and
General business condi­
seasonal fluctuations a r e
tions continue to improve,
t a k e n into consideration,
though there are a number
CO N TE N TS
wholesale and retail trade
o f industries that do not
Introduction.
during April, 1921, show up
share in the improvement.
Collections.
well in comparison with
Clearings.
Public opinion has under­
Debits to Individual A ccou n t
March, and with April of last
gone a decided change since
Condition o f M em ber Banks
year. Agricultural products
the first of the year, but the
Labor.
gained slightly in price, and
change is based on a better
Coal
developments o f the new
Textiles.
understanding o f fundamen­
Building Materials.
crop were on the whole sat­
tal conditions, and promises
Fertilizer
isfactory.
Bank clearings,
well for the future. The
Agriculture.
while 24.9% under clearings
month of January showed
Building Operations.
in April, 1920, were in line
W holesale Trade.
distinct improvement over
Retail Trade.
with new price levels, as
the closing months o f 1920,
M iscellaneous
were debits to individual ac­
and many business men were
count in clearing house cen­
jubilant. W e received half a
ters. Food prices continued
hundred letters from leaders
downward, though slowly,
in many fields that agreed in
the conclusion that “ business will be back to nor­ and building operations showed the highest total
mal in 30 to 60 days” or “ by April 1st.” Business valuation for new w ork reported since the Federal
leaders now feel that readjustment is to be a Reserve Bank o f Richmond has been compiling
the monthly figures. Condition reports received
longer process that was at first expected; a steady,
weekly from eighty-three member banks show
uphill pull that will require patience, courage, and decreases in outstanding loans, indicating some
constant application to the problem. The clear
further liquidation. Orders to building material
understanding o f this fact is a decidedly favorable
dealers are com ing in better, and textile plants are
securing a larger number o f orders.
development.

COLLECTIONS — Dun's Review reports 154 failures in the Fifth District during the month of
April, 1921, with liabilities o f $3,334,591 compared with 14 failures in April, 1920, with liabilities of
$88,450. In number o f failures, the April record exceeds any other month during 1919, 1920 and 1921,
but in liabilities the April record is less than the January, 1921, amount. The high percentage increases
are due to the fact that April, 1920, was the best month during either 1919 or 1920, there having been
only 14 failures with liabilities o f $88,450, a record equalled by only one other district in number
and by no other district in the total o f liabilities. Failures in January, February and March num­
bered 142, 144 and 123, with liabilities of $3,887,908, $3,170,347 and $2,918,460, respectively. W e give
herewith a table showing the number of failures in the twelve Federal Reserve Districts for April,
1921 and 1920, with percentages o f increase in both the number and the aggregate liabilities involved.




FAILURES IN THE TW ELVE FEDERAL RESERVE DISTRICTS
City and District

Number
1921

1920

145
229
104
118
154
136
178
115
39
50
98
121

51
117
24
36
14
36
39
14
16
32
16
109

184.3
95.7
333.3
227.8
1,000.0
277.8
356.4
721.4
143.8
56.3
512.5
11.0

1,487

504

195.0

Boston, F ir s t ___________________
New York, Second______________
Philadelphia, T h ird _____________
Cleveland, F o u rth ______________
Richmond, Fifth _______________
Atlanta, S ix th __________________
Chicago, Seventh ______________
St. Louis, E igh th _______________
Minneapolis, N in th _____________
Kansas City, Tenth_____________
Dallas, Eleventh _______________
San Francisco, Twelfth_________
Totals_____________________

Liabilities

Per Cent
Increase

1921
$

1,746,699
10,471,232
2,227,631
4,366,788
3,334,591
1,997,350
3,949,115
2,427,872
593,718
1,966,778
2,905,847
2,580,148

$ 38,567,769

1920
$

Per Cent
Increase

982,320
2,865,153
278,334
352,946
88,450
361,833
4,551,640
200,207
681,330
628,450
100,582
2,132,890

77.8
265.5
700.3
1,137.2
3,670.0
452.0
— 13.2
1,112.7
— 12.9
213.0
2,789.0
21.0

$ 13,224.135

191.6

Thirty-six wholesale houses sent us reports on collections for April, 1921, which indicate about
the same conditions that have existed since last fall. Collections made by grocers and furniture manu­
facturers show some improvement in comparison with those of March, while in the dry goods and shoe
trade they remain about the same heretofore reported. Hardware jobbers have been less successful
in collecting than in preceding months o f this year. As in previous months during this year the
slowest collections have been in the cotton section o f the district. W e have classified thirty-three of
the replies for April given us by wholesalers and included them in the table given herewith. In addi­
tion to these, three reports could not be accurately classified, a hardware dealer reporting his collec­
tions slow to fair, a dry goods jobber writing that collections are good except in the cotton region,
and another dry goods dealer reporting conditions fair to slow._____________________________
Collections Reported as

Lines Sold

Good

Fair

Slow

Poor

Total

Groceries ____________________________
Dry Goods __________________________
Boots and Shoes____________________
H ardware___________________ ________
Furniture ____________________________

3
0
0
2
0

4
5
4
3
3

2
0
2
0
0

0
1
1
3
0

9
6
8
3

April Totals __________________
March T o ta ls _________________
February T o ta ls ______________
January Totals
___ _

5
7
6
10

19
17
19
17

4
8
8
6

5
4
3
5

33
36
36
38

7

Reports sent us by leading department and general stores located throughout the district show
that collections are not holding up as well in retail trade as they are in wholesale. T w o or three months
ago wholesalers were reporting collections slow or fair, while retailers reported their collections good
to excellent. In March retailers found it difficult to make their usual collections, and in April five
stores reported collections g o o d ; six, fair; and four, poor or below normal for this season o f the year.
MONTHLY CLEARINGS
For Month of April

CITIES

No.!

1921
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
il.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.

Asheville, N. C_____
Baltimore, Md. -----Charleston, S. C----Charlotte, N. C------Columbia, S. C_____
Frederick, Md. -----Greensboro, N. C.__.
Greenville, S. C------Hagerstown, Md.
Huntington, W . V a­
Newport News, Va._.
Norfolk, Va. --------Raleigh, N. C---------Richmond, V a . -------Spartanburg, S. C._
Washington, D. C._
Totals-------------* Not included in Totals.




$

i
I

$

4,839,170
336,698,455
11,540,836
6,782,901*
9,051,254
2,726,984
4,553,988
5,328,300
3,605,787
7,315,695
2,019,173
28,487,372
4,782,694
155,156,395
2,627,046*
73,437,845
649,543.948

|
!$
j

1920

Increase
or
Decrease

Per Cent of
Increase
or
Decrease

6,087.079
393,131,859
21,784,634

1,247,909-^
56,433,404—
10,243,798—

20.5^ ~

18,036,245
3,750,529
6,713,460
16,716,050
4,335,290
7,930,293
4,434,572
44,403,040
8,333,696
254,400,585

_8~98~4,991—
1,023,545—
2,159,472—
11,387,750—
729,503—
614,598—
2,415,399—
15,915,668—
3,551,002—
99,244,190—

498
~~—
27.3—
32.2—

16.8—
7.8—
54.5—
35.8—
42.6—
39.0—

74>6"5'860
864,823,192

"i~328’6i5—
215.279,244—

24.9—

— Denotes decrease.

14.4—
4 7 .0 -

68. 1—

1.8—

No.

1

2

3
4
5

6
8
7

9

10

11

12

13
14
15
16

The table shows clearings in April, 1921, for sixteen cities in the Fifth District, the April, 1920,
figures being available for only fourteen. These fourteen cities show clearings in April, 1921, amount­
ing to $649,543,948 compared with $864,823,192 in April, 1920, a decrease this year of $215,279,244, or
24.9%. The decrease in March, 1921, under March, 1920, was 25.2%. These decreases reflect the de­
cline in general price levels, and do not indicate that 24.9% less business was done in April, 1921, than
in April last year.
DEBITS TO INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNT IN CLEARING HOUSE CENTERS
For the Weeks Ending

CITIES
May 4, 1921
Baltimore, Md. _________________________ $
Charleston, S. C___ _______ _____ _____i
Charlotte, N. C_________ ________ ____ 1
Columbia, S. C . ____ ___ _ _ __ _ !
Greenville, S. C.
— ------------------------ j
Huntington, W . V a_____ ___
_ _
_
Norfolk, Va. _ _
_______ _ _
---!
Raleigh, N. C . _______
_____________J
Richmond, Va. -------------------------------------- 1
Washington, D. C . --------------------- --------- i
Wilmington, N. C___ ______ ______ ______ j
Totals for 7 cities —
---------- $
Totals for 11 cities— -----------------

99,716,000
7.120.000
6.664.000
5.551.000
3,171,000*
5,234,000*
13.199.000
4.300.000
26.312.000
37,918,000*
6,704,000*
162,862,000
215,889,000

April 6, 1921
$

|
|$

99,691,000
7.263.000
5.756.000
4.949.000
3,177,000*
5,413,000*
14.152.000
4,000,000
24.628.000
40,155,000*
6,132,000*
160,439,000
215,316,000

May 5, 1920
$

115,737,000
11.706.000
8.513.000
8.248.000
22~1~34~000
3.800.000
36,904,000

207,042,000

$

* Not Included in Totals for Seven Cities.

Debits to Individual Account in seven cities of the Fifth District totaled $162,862,000 for the
week ending May 4, 1921, compared with $207,042,000 reported by the same cities for the correspond­
ing week of 1920, a decrease this year of $44,180,000, or 21.3%. Compared with totals reported for the
week ending April 6, 1921, the May 4, 1921, figures show an increase of 1.5%. As in the case of clear­
ing house figures mentioned above, the percentage decrease this year in debits to individual account
reflects the general price declines, and does not indicate a 21.3% decrease in volume of business
transacted.
CONDITION OF EIGHTY REPORTING MEMBER BANKS IN SELECTED CITIES
IT E M S
1. Total Loan and Discounts (exclusive
of rediscounts) ____ ____________ $
2. Total Investments in Bonds and Se­
curities ____ ____________ ______ 3. Total Loans and Investm ents________
4. Reserve Balance with Federal R e­
serve Bank ______________________
5. Cash in V a u l t s _______ ____
______
6. Demand D e p o s it s __________ _________
7. Time Deposits ___________________ * Includes some miscellaneous investments.

M ay 4, 1921

April 8, 1921

411,638,000

$

119.486.000
531.124.000
31.007.000
16.140.000
302.870.000
115.722.000

420,759,000

M ay 7, 1920
$

493,256,000*

119,826,000
540,585,000
|
j
!

87,826,000**
581.082.000

34,392,000
14,173,000
311,462,000
115,023,000

35.683.000
19.326.000
348.715.000
103.403.000

** Government Securities only.

Because o f the change in the method of compilation, mentioned last month, the figures given in
the table for items 1 and 2 are not comparable for the 1921 and 1920 dates, but item 3 is comparable,
as are items 4 to 7, inclusive. The figures show decreases in all items between May 7, 1920, and May
4, 1921, except Time Deposits, which increased in the year from $103,403,000 to $115,722,000, or 11.9%.
Total Loans and Investments decreased from $581,082,000 to $531,124,000, or 8.6% ; Reserve with Fed­
eral Reserve Bank, from $35,683,000 to $31,007,000, or 13.1%; Cash in Vaults, from $19,326,000
to $16,140,000, or 16.5%; and Demand Deposits, from $348,715,000 to $302,870,000, or 13.1%.
Comparing the figures for April 8, 1921, and May 4, 1921, it is seen that liquidation of bank
loans has continued during the past four weeks, the $420,759,000 reported on April 8, 1921, having
declined to $411,638,000 on May 4, 1921, a decrease of $9,121,000, or 2.2%. During the same four weeks,
Reserve Balance with Federal Reserve Bank decreased 9.8%, while Cash in Vaults increased 13.9%.
Demand Deposits declined from $311,462,000 to $302,870,000, a decrease of $8,592,000, or 2.8%, while
Time Deposits increased from $115,023,000 to $115,722,000, or six-tenths of one per cent.




LABOR — Although increased construction work has given employment to a few men, others
have been released by manufacturers who have reduced their working forces or shortened running
time. Unemployment is noticeable among middle aged and older women, who have been released from
factories in considerable numbers. W age adjustments have been made without friction in most lines
o f work. In some cases unorganized workers have quietly taken the place of organized workers who
refused to submit to reductions. Farm labor is more plentiful than the demand, and naturally farm
wages have been greatly reduced. The reports of the United States Employment Bureau for the Fifth
District show that more applications for employment have been received this month than last.
COAL — There was no change in the coal situation during April, either in wholesale or retail
trade. Prices held firm after the slight reduction made by some retailers in M arch ; consumers bought
for immediate needs only; in the face of limited orders received at the mines underproduction con­
tinued and the labor condition remained unimproved. Dealers are urging customers to buy during
the summer months, but consumers are reluctant, though dealers insist that prices are not going
lower this season.
TEXTILES — There has been a slight improvement in textiles since our last report. The mills
are running approximately full time, and more orders are being received than was the case six weeks
ago, but mill authorities claim that, at present selling prices, they are making no profits. Although
the cost o f raw material is very low, many other elements entering into the expense of manufacture,
such as coal and transportation charges, have declined little. The recent activity in the automobile
tire industry has been reflected by the number of orders received at those mills which work largely or
entirely on tire fabrics. The largest hosiery mill in the district is running full time, and the dye and
finishing plants are operating both day and night.
BUILDING MATERIALS — Reporting dealers in building materials state that their business
has improved as compared with its condition last fall. There are still serious obstacles to be overcom e,
among those being difficulty in financing construction projects, and continued high wages in the build­
ing trades. Many lumber and steel dealers contend that their business cannot become prosperous or
satisfactory until the railroads enter the markets for their normal supply of these products. During
April and early May lumber dealers received a considerable number of orders, and statistics issued by
the Southern and the North Carolina Pine Associations show that consumption of this commodity is
now ahead o f production. Dealers in lumber and brick write that their prices have fallen from 10% to
15% in the past thirty days, and dealers in plumbers’ supplies report reductions of 33% since January
first. Brick yards that are w orking have sufficient orders to keep them busy. There has been a slight
increase in orders received for structural iron and steel and for iron pipe. Paint and varnish dealers
report a better feeling in the trade, though few orders are being received.
FERTILIZER — The present season has been unsatisfactory to fertilizer companies. In addi­
tion to experiencing much difficulty in making collections from jobbers and farmers for fertilizer used
under 1920 crops, the mills have sold not more than 50% of the usual tonnage this season, and claim
that little profit is being made on the goods sold, since they were manufactured largely from raw ma­
terials bought or contracted for at high prices last year. Reductions late in the season by fertilizer
manufacturers failed to stimulate buying to any appreciable extent, partly because of delay in making
price reductions but chiefly because the farmers found difficulty in financing fertilizer purchases on
account of the large percentage of last year’s obligations that have not been settled.
AGRICULTURE — Unseasonable weather during May retarded crop development, serious losses
having resulted from frost. Due to prevailing cold, proper germination of seeds has been prevented
and growth of crops has been checked. Previous reports of serious damage to fruit have been con­
firmed, and only 20% of the average crop is reported from many orchard sections.
During April
cotton suffered severely from late frosts, necessitating extensive replanting, and corn has also been
injured. W heat in South Carolina and Virginia, and potatoes in South Carolina, have been damaged
considerably.
Preparation of the soil and actual planting has progressed satisfactorily throughout the district.
In South Carolina tobacco and sweet potatoes have been transplanted, corn is up in the southern sec­
tion and planting is being rushed in the northern counties. North Carolina reports similar progress,
and Virginia and Maryland are follow ing as closely as their later season will permit.
According to the Department of Agriculture’s weekly report, issued through the Bureau of
Crop Estimates, the acreage planted in cotton has been considerably reduced in the Carolinas. Tobacco
acreage has been slightly increased in South Carolina, but early reports indicate reductions in both
North Carolina and Virginia. Corn acreage is about normal except in North Carolina, where some
increase is reported.
There has been a notable though small movement of cotton, and markets heretofore dormant
sold more cotton during May than in the preceeding months of this year. Liquidation resulting from




even the limited sale has given material relief to immediate localities, and has served to stimulate local
business. The price on nineteen markets in North and South Carolina increased from an average of
10.40 cents for middling for the week ending April 16 to 10.93 cents for the week ending May 14.
Practically all of the 1920 tobacco crop has been sold by the growers, and the markets will close
for the season in tw o weeks.
Labor for farm w ork is plentiful at reduced wages, but money is scarce and farmers are strain­
ing every energy to do the work themselves. The 1921 crops in the Fifth District promise to be
among the cheapest ever made. This should be of material assistance in helping the farmers recover
the* losses incident to last year’s crops.
BUILDING OPERATIONS FOR THE MONTHS OF APRIL, 1921 AND 1920
Permit s Issued
New Construction
C IT IE S
o’

1921 1920

S;
z

Alterations

Increase or Per Cent,
of
Decrease,
Increase
Total
Valuation
or
o’
Decrease £

Repairs

New

1921

1920

1921

1920

1921

1920

761,040 $
21,260
13,040

806,160 $3,844,520
18, 655
5,395—
4,400
4,090

M aryland

1 Baltimore.................... 518
2 Cumberland................
23
6
3 Frederick.....................
V irginia
13
4 Lynchburg..................
39
5 N orfolk..........: ............
6 Richmond.................... 116
7 Roanoke
................. *135
7
8 Staunton......................
W est V irginia
9 C h arlesto n ................ 115
10 H u n tin gto n ............... *194
11 Parkersburg...............
N orth C arolina
12 Asheville ...................
37
37
13 Charlotte.....................
11
14 D u rh a m ......................
25
15 Greensboro ...............
16
16 High P oint...
10
17 Wilmington.................
53
18 Winston-Salem..........
South C arolina
22
19 Charleston..................
25
20 Columbia.....................
25
21 Greenville....................
21
22 Spartanburg................

646 1,624 1,355 88,205,200 $4,315,560 $
78, 700
23
70,700
29
36
2
12,980
10
8,430
10
6
141
72
*85
7

27
72
138

14
18
119

21,100
410,102—
204, 917—
49, 208
8, 610—

119.5
66.8—
21.2—
29.2
60.6—

1

0

61
*123

32

12

65,197—
137, 455
42,000

17.9— 9
42.5 10
150.0 11

1,150
58,190

124, 444—
25,147
480, 900—
291, 500
16, 525—
75,450—
150, 265—

45.8—
19.5
94.1—
576.9
19.2—
67.3—
45.9—

12
13
14
15
16
17
18

18,420
16,706
12, 390
8,985

12,150
49,000
29, 975
10, 505

38,805
244, 455
69,170—
174,080

77.4
170.9
44.2—
222.4

19
20
21
22

363, 242

428,119

256, 758

12.6

23

1688 1,636 2,948 2, 415 13, 594,575 $9,899, 650 SI, 608, 610 $1,785, 392 $3,518,143

30.1

41
16
8
5

*39
11
53

28,150
154,657
619,672
*217, 700
5,425

13,300
542,543
776,816
*168, 492
14,200

10,600
49, 354
141,275

4,350
71,570
189,048

165

0

272,582
*460, 545
40,000

356,754
*323,090
20,000

27,250

8,275

30,000

8,000

114,550
138, 900
20,075
329, 850
59, 525
30,700
128,530

239,000
91,355
506,490
39,500
*86,195
111,000
269,225

32, 516
15,227
10,200
12,175
10,145
6,000
48, 620

32,510
37, 625
4, 685
11,025

70,495
370, 749
75, 065
243, 375

37, 960
94,000
126, 650
67,775

490 1,929, 700

1,608,065

75.1
1
5.5— 2
23.5
3

64
78
15
17
12
3
11
6
13
6 ........2
151
110

19
23
23
27

15
78
31
25

197

628

9
81
22
7

4

5
6
7
8

D is t . of C o l u m b ia

23 Washington................
T o ta ls......

240

*Includes both new and repairs.

The improvement in the housing situation noted in February and March continued through
April. Permits for new buildings in April, 1921, totalled 1,688 compared with 1,636 in April, 1920, an
increase this year of 3.2%, the total estimated valuation being $13,594,575 in April, 1921, as compared
with $9,899,650 in April, 1920, an increase this year of 37.3%. For repairs and alterations, 2,948 per­
mits were issued in April, 1921, in comparison with 2,415 in April, 1920, the estimated valuation being
$1,608,610 and $1,785,392 respectively, showing an increase of 22.1% in number of permits, but a decrease
of 9.9% in valuation. Valuations for both new construction and repairs or alterations total $15,203,185
in April, 1921, compared with $11,685,042 in April, 1920, an increase this year of 30.1%.
The total valuation for new construction is the highest ever reported to us, but mention should
be made of the inclusion of a sugar refinery in Baltimore estimated to cost $6,000,000. The exclusion of
this single permit would bring total valuation for new work in April, 1921, 23.3% under total valua­
tion in April, 1920.
During April, 1921, in Baltimore, permits were issued for 126 tw o-story brick dwellings, 60 tw ostory frame dwellings, and 5 three-story dwellings. One five-story apartment house was also planned.
In Richmond, permits were issued for 21 brick dwellings, 44 frame dwellings, and one twelve family




apartment house. Lynchburg reports 6 new residences, Durham reports 11 small dwellings, and
W ilmington reports 8 frame houses. W ith the exception of the apartment houses, practically all of
the new dwellings are for the use o f the owners, or for sale when completed, none of them being for
rental purposes.
The housing situation in all cities in the District continues critical, and there has been no reduc­
tion in rents. On the other hand, tenants in some houses and apartments have been notified of intended
advances when present leases expire.

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERMITS FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION
IN TWENTY-THREE CITIES
1919,1920 and 1921

2,500

1919 Fercit, g
1920 Permit s
1921 Pensit>S

2,300
/

2,100
1,900

V

2,000
\

1,600

r
7

%

1,300
1,100
»

I62Q*~*

i/I I A
J9*9

_

i a ifl
1919

sf
*i

t
—

1,600

\ ----------%

/
»
*

1,500

2,200

\

/
»

1,700

900

S
.

/
/
»

2,400

>

1,400

_m m —
____

" ...

1,200
.*/ tiO —
- fyZQ+^ —
-------*

--’***

1,000

700 JQZ1
S7

r**-

800
600

500

400

300

200

100
•
•
S a >

•

•
a

Q
J

p

u

S

f

>*
p
p

•
p

-t
-3
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REPORT ON WHOLESALE TRADE
LINES SOLD

Net Sales in April, 1921, Compared W ith
Sales in March, 1921

In April, 1920

Groceries ---------------------------------------------------------------Dry Goods -------------------------------------------------------------Boots and Shoes-----------------------------------------------------Hardware _________________________________________
Furniture _________________________________________

— 6.4
—27.2
—21.4
— 1.7
54.8

— 31.0
—39.1
— 38.4
—22.7
—52.1

Total Averages-------------------------------------------

— 15.8

— 35.3

The figures above show losses in the dollar value of trade in all lines during April, 1921, in com ­
parison with April, 1920, and in all lines except furniture in comparison with March, 1921. The sharp
drop in April under March in dry goods and shoes is largely seasonal, most retailers having gotten in
their spring and summer goods during March in time for the Easter trade.
The furniture trade is very spotty, some factories reporting fair business while others are doing
practically nothing. Only a part of the factories in the district are running, and retailers appear to be
keeping their stocks at a minimum.




W holesale trade as a whole is made up of many small orders for immediate shipment, merchants
still hesitating before placing substantial orders for future delivery, but the feeling in the trade is better
and wholesalers are inclined to think that they have reached a price basis upon which both they and
the retailers can and will ultimately operate to their mutual profit.
FIGURES ON, RETAIL TRADE
As Indicated By Reports from Twenty-Five Representative Department Stores
for the Month of April, 1921
Baltimore

Richmond

Washington

Other Cities

District

Percentage increase (or decrease) in net
sales during April over or under sales
in April, 1920 -----------------------------------------

6.8—

3.1

5.3

3.7

0.7—

Percentage increase in net sales from
January 1st through April 30, 1921, in
comparison with sales during the same
four months of 1920-------------------------------

0.6—

4.9

6.9

8.7

3.6

Percentage decrease in sales during Apr.,
1921, under sales during March--------------

7.7—

10.5—

10.3—

6.5—

8.7—

Percentage decrease in stocks on hand at
the end of April, 1921, in comparison
with stocks on hand at the end of
April, 1920 _____________________________

26.0—

13.6—

29.0—

23.3—

25.8—

Percentage increase in stocks on hand at
the end of April, 1920, in comparison
with stocks on hand at the end of
March, 1921 ____________________________

3.6

4.3

5.7

3.0

4.2

Percentage of average stocks on hand
at the end of each month since January
1, 1921, to average monthly sales dur­
ing the same four months----------------------

327.1

355.9

344.1

400.5

345.3

Percentage of outstanding orders on Apr.
30, 1921, to total purchases of merchan­
dise (cost price) during the calendar
year 1920 _______________________________

6.1

4.6

4.8

5.1

5.4

— Denotes decrease.

For the first time in several years retail trade, as indicated by reports sent us by twenty-five
department and general stores in the district, was less in dollar value during April than business done
during the corresponding month of the previous year, the decrease amounting to seven-tenths o f one
per cent. Stores in Richmond, Washington and miscellaneous cities reported increases, but Baltimore
averaged a 6.8% decrease, which brought the average for the entire district below the April, 1920,
record. It should be borne in mind, however, that a small loss in dollar value of business done does
not indicate a loss in actual volume of units sold, because present retail prices are considerably lower
than they were a year ago. In total sales from January 1 through April 30, 1921, the district is 3.6%
ahead of total sales made by the same stores during the first four months of 1920.
Sales in the twenty-five stores decreased 8.7% in April in comparison with sales during March,
this being a natural and seasonal loss for the month following the Easter trade.
Stocks on hand are reported as 25.8% less than those on hand April 30, 1920, in dollar value, but
4.2% greater than those on hand at the close of March, 1921. The percentage of stocks on hand to net
sales from January 1 through April 30, 1921, increased slightly during April, the average at the end
o f the month being 345.3% in comparison with 343.2% reported at the end of March.
Outstanding orders are approximately the same as at the close of March, both months showing
5.4% o f total purchases for 1920 outstanding.




MISCELLANEOUS — Stocks o f canned goods in primary hands being large, growers and pack­
ers are planning restricted acreage and packing for this season. Oyster packers are closing a satisfac­
tory season. Cotton oil products are suffering from lack of foreign orders, and large stocks of both
oil and lard are accumulating. The wholesale drug business is from 10% to 30% below normal, strictly
Southern trade being fully 30% off, but collections are fair in the trade. T w o glass factories report
some improvement in their business during the past month, but one writes that no improvement has
been seen. The situation in the furniture trade is unchanged. A leading wagon manufacturer sa y s:
“ The buying and debt paying power o f the farmer has been so greatly impaired that it has resulted in
a paralysis of our business.” The trunk and bag business is dull and collections are slow.




[Compiled May 16, 1921]