Tuesday, April 14, 2009

March retail sales show recession is far from over; use hard times to learn lifetime lessons

More proof that all the giddy talk about an economic recovery was unfounded can be found today in retail sales numbers released for March.

Sales declined 1.1 percent, compared to an expectation of 0.3 percent increase by analysts. Such a large decline overshadows small retail sales increases in January and March and reflects more Americans shelving their credit cards and cutting their debt instead of spending. Good for them.

There is one truth about this Great Recession that cannot be avoided. It took us a long time to get into it, and it will take a long time to get out of it. Use these difficult times to learn how to manage money better and even do without with some things we thought were stapes. These are lessons that can benefit you and your children over a lifetime.

Marketwatch reports:

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - U.S. retail sales dropped a seasonally adjusted 1.1% in March, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday, after two months' of gains had boosted hopes of a rebound in consumer spending.

Sales for January and February were revised higher in Tuesday's report by 0.4 percentage points, but the results were still much weaker than expected by economists, who thought sales would rise 0.2% in March.

With the recession entering its 16th month, consumers have been battered by staggering job destruction and the loss of trillions in wealth in their homes and investments.

Recently, however, some "green shoots" have appeared, in Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's words, including increases in consumer spending in January and February.

Against that background, retail sales in March were disappointing.
Sales fell in March for almost every type of store except the necessities of food and drugs. Sales of durable goods were particularly soft in March.

Excluding the 2.3% decline in auto sales, retail sales fell 0.9%, compared with the 0.2% decline expected. Excluding both gasoline and autos, sales fell 0.8%.
In the past year, sales are down 9.4%. The figures are not adjusted for price changes.

Retail sales in the first quarter were down 1.2% compared with the fourth quarter of last year, raising the possibility that real consumer spending may have fallen again in the first three months of 2009 after plunging at a 4% annual rate in the final six months of 2008

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