Thursday, December 13, 2007

How's Sales Lately?

There's the Commerce Department numbers (rosy, rosy...), and then there's the actual real-live retailers' reports.

American consumers opened their wallets mostly on a need-to-buy basis last month, or when big sales lured them to the mall, bolstering concerns that the nation's retailers will need persistent discounting to move merchandise this holiday season.

While sales improved after two weak months, warnings from Target Inc. and others that business fell off sharply in the final week of November rattled many retail stocks . . .

The lackluster sales are another indicator that consumers may be slowing their spending after a multiyear binge fueled by cheap credit and a housing boom. --WSJ, quoted in Big Picture.

A decent chunk of November's retail-sales gains were based on inflation. Another decent chunk was the price of gasoline--which, some may recall, was over $3.00/gal. in Wisconsin for a while.

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