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The chart below looks at retail sales (seasonally adjusted, including food services) going back to 1992 and updates a similar chart from February, Chart of the Week: Retail Sales Recovering.

The February headline no longer applies six months later, as retail sales fell on a month-over-month basis in both May and June, though data released today show a 0.4% uptick in July that translates into a year-over-year advance of 5.6%, as shown in the red line in the chart below.

When all is said and done, it will be the consumer who decides whether the economy grows, shrinks or maintains a holding pattern over the course of the next year or so. For now at least, consumers appears to be holding their cards close to the vest. Whether any of those are trump cards remains to be seen. (Click to enlarge)

[source: Census Bureau]

Disclosure: None

Source: Retail Sales Since 1992