Thursday, January 10, 2008

Confirming a slow season

The initial reports from retailers was that the American consumer was crunched, and what merchandise was coming off the shelves was coming off at deep discounts. Further ancedotal evidence of finding Christmas shopping parking too easily added a little bit of support to the hypothesis of a weak retail season. Some of the initial reports, such as the Mastercard analysis of their own users' expenditure patterns strongly supported such a conclusion. Sales were basically flat in real dollar terms.

And now we are seeig some confirmation, as CNN is reporting that this Christmas season did not have any surprise retail miracles in it.

The 2007 holiday shopping season is turning out to be the weakest in years after retailers across-the-board reported deep declines in their December sales Thursday...
In the overall retail sector, Thomson Financial, which compares monthly results at 43of the nation's largest retail chains based on analysts' estimates, expects total December same-store sales rose just 0.9 percent, much weaker than last year's 3.3 percent gain for the same period in 2006...
Of the 29 retailers that have already reported their results, the firm said 66 percent missed analysts' sales forecasts, 31 percent beat projections, while 3 percent met estimates

If employment continues to look mediocre or weaker, credit continues to tighten, gas prices don't ease, wages stay flat, then we should continue to expect weak retail sales for anything past the basics.

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