Thursday, June 4, 2009

On Consumer Spending

Those who were closely following the economic news last month likely heard about the slightly-less-bad-than-expected rate at which U.S. GDP shrank in the first quarter of the year.

One of the (relative) bright spots in the May report was consumer spending, but the most recent report from retailers says this area remains weak, Goldman-Sachs's tally showing a 4.6 drop in the last month (worse than the 3 percent expected).

The picture given in the Associated Press story varies a bit depending on which store you look at, but Wal-Mart, which in a telling gesture has "stopped reporting the monthly figures," has posted the 10th month-to-month sales drop in a row; while the picture seems to worsen as you move "up" marketwise. Target reported a 6.1 percent drop (compared with the 4.6 expected) and Macy's a 9.3 (compared with the predicted 9.1 percent), while sales at Abercrombie & Fitch plummeted 28 percent.

According to the article, analysts "generally expect the weak trends to continue throughout the summer," with another 3-4 percent drop anticipated for next month.

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