A couple of days ago I noted here that most Americans are “glum” on economic progress in America.
As a small business owner I keep my eye on the economic news and I have contended here long before the media began to speak more frankly about the economic state of our nation, that the economy sucks.
Today, AP News reports:
The nation’s retailers reported the weakest March sales in 13 years on Thursday as consumers — fretting about mounting economic problems and enduring a frigid Easter — limited their shopping to food and other essentials.
With prices at the pump rising and worries about jobs increasing, shoppers bought basics at discounters and wholesale clubs and snubbed mall-based chains’ clothing, jewelry and furniture. The earliest Easter in 95 years also hurt sales; shoppers weren’t in the mood to buy spring clothing in cold weather.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. were among the best performers. Wal-Mart raised its earnings outlook, noting that better inventory control helped to limit markdowns on merchandise.
Last months, The Conference Board, a business-backed group, said, “‘consumers’ outlook for the economy was the gloomiest in 35 years.” Contributing factors to the gloomy, glum outlook: “A deteriorating economy, soaring food and gas prices, limited credit and slumping home prices.”
The Bush administration insists that economic growth should “revive this summer when 130 million households start spending their economic stimulus checks.” Good luck with that…
Janet Hoffman, managing partner of the North American retail division of Accenture, and other analysts believe that any sales lift at stores will only be temporary, however. And many believe that shoppers will use a chunk of the money to pay down debt.
Don’t hold your breath for things to improve anytime soon. The per barrel price for oil continues to rise and so does the price at the pumps.