Retailers blame IRS for slumping sales as income tax refunds get delayed

Add Walmart, Foot Locker, Burlington Coat Factory and Best Buy to the list of delusional retailers. According to this CNBC, report, the above companies are blaming the IRS for their slipping sales. They don’t have a clue…

Uncle Sam is taking a lot of heat from retailers.

With sales off to a rough start in the new fiscal year, chains from Wal-Mart to Foot Locker and Burlington to Best Buy are blaming a planned delay in tax refunds as one culprit.

The credits, which benefit low- to middle-income households with children, are being distributed later by the Internal Revenue Service this year to give the agency adequate time to validate claims.

Yet while traffic and sales trends are picking up as checks are delivered, their delay contributed to $57 billion less in refunds being doled out through most of February, according to Morgan Stanley.

They also contributed to muted expectations from several major retailers. Though not every company blamed late refunds for soft first-quarter trends, negative outlooks outnumbered the positive by nearly a 5-to-1 margin, according to Retail Metrics.

“We have seen, in our businesses and as reported by a third-party service, a substantial reduction in mall traffic in February,” L Brands‘ CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer told investors on the company’s latest earnings call. “Is it tax refunds? Who knows what it is. But it was a substantial falloff.”

From the backwoods of Michigan, Thomas Dishaw is writer and health hacker. Thomas currently resides outside Philadelphia with his wife and dog. You can support Thomas' work by making a donation below or following him on Instagram. You can reach Thomas via email at

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