Today’s update on retail sales for April wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. We suspect that more of the same is coming, in retail sales and other economic numbers. The worst of the recession appears to be passing, but the best of the rebound is still nowhere in sight.
Retail sales slipped a mere 0.4% last month on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Census Bureau reports. As declines in this series go, that’s the mildest downturn yet since the recession began in December 2007. That’s all well and good, but let’s not forget that the outright monthly gains in retail sales of January and February have faded. Are we now settling into to a period of treading water? Perhaps.
To be sure, there were some bright spots in today’s report, including gains in retail sales in the auto and building materials sectors. But overall, the message in today’s update is that momentum in retail sales appears is conspicuously absent. Changing the dynamic will take a sharp turnaround in the labor market. That glorious day, however, is nowhere in sight.
As Yogi Berra said, It ain’t over till it’s over. This recession isn’t over, even if the worst of the contraction is behind us.
Oringinally published at The Capital Spectator and reproduced here with the author’s permission.