Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Green shoots sprouting?

May 6, 2009

Check out a glimmer of hope on the employment front. USA-ECONOMY/
 
Planned layoffs for U.S. firms fell in April to their lowest levels since last October, according to a  report from outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas
 
Okay, layoffs are still at recessionary levels, with U.S. employers announcing plans to cut 132,590 jobs in April.
 
But CEO John Challenger says the fact that they are falling could mean that employers are a little more confident about future business conditions.
 
If employers start feeling more confident and stop laying off people, that could spur more confidence in employees and eventually get them to spend more at retailers, which, after all, is what this blog is about.
 
In a report by Discover, the credit card issuer, the number of consumers saying the economy was getting better was 23 percent in April.  While that might not seem like much, it is still 8 percentage points better than in March.
 
Also, 51 percent of consumers said the economy was getting worse, down from 61 percent in March.
 
“Consumers continue to approach their spending with caution, albeit a little less so in April,” said Julie Loeger, senior vice president of brand and product management for Discover Financial Services.  “As they grow more confident in the economy and their finances, consumers may boost their spending; which should help with an economic recovery.”
 
Are these the “green shoots” of an improving economy, or just optimism waiting to get shot down?
 
Also in the basket:
 
Carlsberg Q1 doubles on Eastern Europe gains, cost cuts
 
In Target tussle, a store becomes a battlefield (N.Y. Times)
 
Barneys aiming to close two stores (Wall Street Journal)

(Reuters photo of job fair)

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