Consumer Trends Signal Trouble For Retailers When They Are Least Prepared For It

by MR Magazine Staff

After a month’s delay due to the government shutdown, the U.S. Census Bureau just came out with its advanced monthly retail report for December 2018. The news was shocking. Adjusted consumer spending was down 1.2% from November. Though comparisons with December 2017 were more upbeat, an increase of 2.1% overall excluding food services, it was hardly the exuberant results that people were expecting. Going into the holiday season, the National Retail Federation was predicting an increase between 4.3% to 4.8% for sales from November 1 through December 31. Now based upon the Census’ advanced monthly report, holiday retail increased only by 2.9%. The NRF immediately pushed back against the government’s reporting, with its chief economist Jack Kleinhenz stating, “Today’s numbers are truly a surprise and in contradiction to the consumer spending trends we were seeing, especially after such strong October and November spending.” As the industry’s trade association, it is expected to put a positive spin on otherwise negative news. “It appears that worries over the trade war and turmoil in the stock markets impacted consumer behavior more than we expected,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. Read more at Forbes.