Retail Spending Remains Totally Boring

The Wall Street Journal reports that US shoppers “splurged” in July:

American shoppers gave the U.S. economy a solid boost in July, a counter to weakness in the manufacturing sector and Wall Street jitters about faltering growth….The robust report—the strongest reading since March and a sign that American consumers remain a source of fuel for the economy—is a positive signal for the U.S. amid warning signs of a global economic slowdown. U.S. stocks stabilized after release of the sales figures.

That’s good news, I suppose, but you might want to keep your excitement under control after you see July’s increase in context:

Retail spending has been almost eerily rock steady for years. There was a brief drop in late 2018 and then a brief uptick in the spring to get back on track, and that’s about it. Retail spending in July was precisely where you would have predicted back in 2015 if you just drew a straight line. It’s good that consumer spending didn’t plunge or anything, but July’s figures were hardly a sign of a US-led splurge.


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