Retail Sales Stabilizing, But Still Well Off Earlier Levels

by: Market Blog

By David Berman

U.S. retail sales in September were better than expected, which has helped support some of the earlier, earnings-driven gains for the stock market on Wednesday. According to the Commerce Deparment, sales fell 1.5% during the month, versus as expectation for a 2.1% dip. After you ignore car sales, which fell sharply after the expiration of the cash for clunkers program, retail sales actually rose 0.5%.

But Calculated Risk puts this beat into perspective: Yes, retail sales appear to have stabilized, but at a level that is far, far below the peak in 2008.

Retail sales are a huge factor in assessing the health of the economy, largely because consumer spending drives about two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Signs of stabilization are of course good news for anyone anticipating an economic recovery in the United States.

However, Calculated Risk’s charts certainly raise the concern retail spending could remain in the doldrums for quite some time, leading to a lackluster economic recovery. Check out the chart here .