Don't Worry, Be Happy
By Jennifer Marks -- Home Textiles Today, 10/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Okay, the numbers don't exactly sing.
The National Retail Federation kicked off last week's blues festival with a prediction that holiday 2007 sales will rise just 4.0%. That falls below the average annual 4.8% pace and would amount to the worst performance since the dismal 1.3% gain posted in the retailing pall of 2002.
Target, which in recent quarters has weathered burps in the economy better than Wal-Mart, chimed in with a chorus of "The Month Ain't Treated Me Like I Thought it Would." An earlier projection that September comp gains would ring in at 4% to 6% was ratcheted back to 1.5% to 2.5%.
Mall mavens were singing the blues, too. The International Council of Shopping Centers nipped its September comps expectation, which had been 2.5%. It now ranges between 2.0% to 2.5%.
Providing some mood music, the Conference board said its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 99.8 — its lowest level since November 2005 (when it stood at 98.3) and well below analysts' expected reading of 104.5.
Consumers don't see the current state of the economy as much of a toe-tapper. The Present Situation Index slid by nearly 10 points in August. And the Expectations Index, a gauge of how consumers feel about the coming six months, declined by four points.
The National Association of Realtors joined the band with a report that sales of existing homes fell for the sixth straight month in August, to reach a six-year low.
Singing a back-up role, the S&P/Case-Shiller report pegged the decline in U.S. home prices at 4.5% in July on a year-over-year basis, the biggest such slide since July 1991.
As a collection of "hits" goes, last week served up a virtual cornucopia of them.
But as the late comedian Flip Wilson once observed, the thing about the blues is, "When the record wears down, it still sounds the same."
So the economy may wear down a bit in the coming months — depending upon what the Fed does and what impact any such action might have. But the song remains the same: buy, sell, innovate, deliver, return, quibble.
The upbeat this time around is that the market has largely shaken out the weak players. Those who survived the transition started singing from a new songbook long ago.
They may need to add a few new grace notes to get through the new blues, but they've got the right instruments and they know how to play.
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