Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Warning, slow recovery ahead

August 18, 2010

homedepot1Check out signs that a slow recovery is in the offing.

Retail executives see only gray skies ahead as U.S. shoppers are still spending cautiously, giving weight to the notion that a recovery will remain weak beyond 2010.

“The economic backdrop is not optimal,” Ken Perkins, president of retail research firm Retail Metrics, told Reuters. “It’s not catastrophic like it was in 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, but it’s just very sluggish.”

Indeed, Wal-Mart Stores posted its fifth consecutive quarterly drop in U.S. same-store sales (sales at stores that were open for at least a year) and said that trend may not reverse itself in the current quarter, Home Depot cut its full-year sales view and Kohl’s, which caters to middle-income consumers, and BJ’s Wholesale cut their profit forecasts.

“The landscape hasn’t changed, and you can make the case that perhaps it has worsened,” Kohl’s Chief Executive Kevin Mansell told Reuters last week.

 Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity and was a key driver in the country’s rebound from its deepest recession since the Great Depression.

But with the housing sector, crucial to U.S. household wealth, still in a rut, and volatile stock markets pinching even those at the upper end of the income scale, the drivers of spending appear dangerously absent.

Also in the basket:

Target posts higher quarterly profit

Chico beats on boost from outlets-only items

Barnes & Noble chairman exercises options, shares up

McDonald’s java roaster Gavina eyes premium market

La-Z-Boy posts Q1 loss

(Reuters photo)

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