BoA says the retail sector is under "increasing pressure" since the latest few years as far as the American behavior is changing into more borrowers, "Until about two years ago, strong growth in incomes and wealth, and a willingness to borrow, had enabled an extended and unusual period of strong growth in retail sales."
But "That period has now passed," states the BoA research team. Now the consumer is more focused "to save and pay down debt than to spend, and are spending a greater proportion of income on services and increased costs of living."
On the industry hand "retailers have had to contend with the emergence of on-line shopping as a major competitor, enhancing price transparency for consumers and providing consumers with alternatives, often including a wider range of goods and lower prices than offered by bricks and mortar retailers, to what had previously been a captive market," says the BoA paper. And it is "in addition to weaker overall demand."