It turns out the US consumer is still doing fine. This was thrown into doubt last week as the peak season for big-box retail earnings started on a sour note. Macy’s lowered its earnings guidance for the year with some bleak commentary, while JC Penney whiffed on sales and slashed full-year projections. Their shares fell with Gap, Nordstrom, and others that missed expectations. But the Census Bureau’s retail sales data Friday brought some relief when it showed a 1.3% jump in April – the most in a year. If it’s so bad for big-box retailers, how come retail sales were so strong? “That juxtaposition is a useful reminder that publicly-traded corporations account for a minority of economic activity in the US, and only the Census data are structured to get a read-through of sales irrespective of legal organizational form,” said JPMorgan’s Michael Feroli in a client note. So, brace for more ugly retail earnings this week, but don’t get carried away. Fears about the consumer were overblown: After an economic slowdown in the first quarter followed by some of the bleakest commentary we’ve heard from retailers in a while, Friday’s retail sales report became an all-important reading on consumer spending…. Read full this story
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