Taking a Closer Look at Mixed Signals

by Rick Davis For those of us who track the macro-econometric behavior of consumers, the past six or seven months have been (at best) challenging. Just teasing out a “macro” behavior has been difficult, with wildly conflicting signals proving to be the norm. In retrospect, even the time-honored surveys of holiday retail activities are now …

CMI: Does Consumer Data Indicate Improving Economy is Coming?

by Rick Davis
The rise in consumer spending in the third quarter indicates improving potential prospects for the economy. That said, we take some caution from the fall-off in this chart over the past eight weeks. Maybe the de-coupling between consumer spending and the underlying fundamentals of household economics can only last so long .

CMI: Growing Consumer Strength

Our overall read from the indexes is that some interesting things are happening with the consumer beyond what has been reported in the popular press. As our previous comments indicated this is a very complex situation, influenced by continued financial stress on consumers from their negative “real” income growth and a year of soaring commodity prices — coupled with very recent relief in gasoline prices.

The Automotive Sales Story

The strength shown in the “economy” brands just before year-end was similar to the data seen in many retail categories at that time — where significant incentives only pulled sales forward from the earliest parts of this year. The numbers returned to slight growth as the pain at the gas pump began to reassert itself. The luxury brands have followed a different course.