Walmart reported its earnings Thursday and they were lackluster to say the least, as executives explain that February 2013 sales started slower than planned due to the delay in income tax refunds and rising gas prices. This announcement came one week after Bloomberg published freakout emails by company executives exclaiming that February sales were a “total disaster.”  Ashley Lutz reports for Business Insider this week that we could all be in trouble if Walmart and its competitors can’t get their feet back on the ground despite a broke customer base:

Family Dollar, Target, and grocery stores are experiencing a similar problem, Strasser told Bloomberg.

When the payroll-tax break expired at the end of last year, Americans started paying 2 percentage points more in Social Security taxes on their first $113,700 in wages, Dudley reported. That’s $60 a month for someone making $40,000 a year.

Walmart shoppers are the “barometer of the U.S. consumer,” Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG Productions, told us. If the world’s largest retail is struggling, other businesses definitely are.

“There’s no reason to be optimistic,” Sozzi told us.

On “Real News” Thursday the panel broke down the economic indicators for the ailing discount mega-shopping industry, and whether they are bellwethers for more dire things to come. What part of this is owned by bad economic policy, and what will the consequences be both politically and economically? Watch a clip from Thursday’s show below: