Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: The dreaded 10 percent

November 6, 2009

unemployment1Check out the grim unemployment numbers from the U.S. Labor Department on Friday, a day after dozens of retail chains reported lackluster October sales.

U.S. employers cut a deeper-than-expected 190,000 jobs in October, driving the jobless rate to 10.2 percent, the highest in more than 26 years.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the monthly unemployment rate to edge up to 9.9 percent from 9.8 percent in September.

While job losses have been mounting for months, some analysts and economists say 10 percent unemployment could deal a new psychological blow to U.S. consumers who might previously have felt that the economy was beginning to stabilize.   

Just last week, news that the U.S. economy had returned to growth instilled hope for a rebound in consumer spending. But the latest reports on retail sales and joblessness suggest that such a result may be further down the road.

So, no matter what gimmicks retailers resort to – be it $10 DVDs or upscale wines – the customer, spooked by an almost daily dose of gloomy economic data, may still be unwilling to open their wallets.

Also in the basket:

Target fights Wal-Mart with $10 offers on DVDs

Hermes outshines rivals, optimistic about Christmas

Kraft in waiting game as Cadbury deadline nears


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