Steady as she goes. That old nautical phrase, urging a firm hand on the wheel and an unwavering eye on the compass, seems apt for today’s retailers. While economic waters remain troubled, an improved economic forecast promises retailers a smoother route to profitability in 2014.
Overcast with clearing skies — That’s the economic forecast from a major research firm as retailers enter a new year. Drizzly conditions will remain at least for the first half of 2013 as consumers hold tight to their pocketbooks. By the summer, though, light should break through the clouds as the resolutions of critical national uncertainties encourage corporate hiring, capital investment and consumer spending.
A report by FirstData Corp. found that year-over-year dollar volume growth was 6.4% in June, down from May’s 7.0% growth as continuing high unemployment and economic anxiety caused consumers to pull back on spending.
A report released Tuesday by the Conference Board said that confidence among U.S. consumers sunk to a two-year low in August, as Americans faced continued unemployment woes and worsening business and economic conditions.
A jobs report on Friday that showed a slowing hiring market sent retail shares tumbling. According to the Labor Department, U.S. employers added just 54,000 new workers in May, the fewest in eight months.
A report released Thursday by the Labor Department said that applications for jobless benefits increased by 25,000 to 410,000 in the week ended Feb. 12, exceeding the 400,000 median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.