Blog: Leonie BarrieUS shoppers defy gloom…for now

Leonie Barrie | 14 February 2008

No doubt there will be some raised eyebrows at the latest data from the US Census Bureau, which shows US retail sales defied predictions in January to rise by 0.3%. Analysts were apparently expecting a 0.3% decline instead.

Perhaps most surprising of all was the 1.4% jump in clothing sales – particularly following reports from the nation's big retailers last week that January had been a dismal month with a slowdown hitting all sectors from teen retailers to mall-based apparel chains, discounters and even those targeting more affluent shoppers.

But while yesterday’s figures might have eased some concerns about consumers' willingness to spend, the increase is being seen as a temporary blip rather than a sustained recovery.

Consumer spending is still decelerating dramatically, with rising food and energy costs, job losses and turbulent financial markets still expected to push the economy into recession in the first half of this year.


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