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This morning the Commerce Department reported retail sales rose 0.1% in February:

Retail sales rose a less-than-expected 0.1 percent in February despite firm automotive sales as building materials and general merchandise sales slumped, a Commerce Department report showed on Tuesday.

Excluding the automotive sector, February retail sales fell 0.1 percent, contrary to market consensus.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters were expecting a 0.3 percent gain in both overall retail sales and sales excluding the automotive sector — considered a more reliable gauge of household spending.

This is something of a confirmation of what we saw in the employment report last week. Things are slowing down, despite the arguments that the housing malaise wouldn’t spread. As we noted earlier today we were surprised Texas Instruments was able to tighten their guidance rather than lower it outright. A new cell phone probably isn’t a necessity for most consumers, and is an easy way to avoid some spending. What will the market reaction be if they do miss?

Source: February Retail Sales: More Signs of a Consumer Slowdown