End of the recession: Are we there yet?

From a recent RetailWire discussion about consumer spending and the end of the recession:

I’d say the good results from the first quarter are encouraging but need to be kept in perspective: The comparisons from 2009 were as tough as it gets. Nevertheless, retailers who study their own data closely seem to be reporting with some consistency that shopping baskets are fuller, foot traffic is better and discretionary spending is on the rise. There are certainly other signs in the broader economy that the consumer is leading the economy out of recession.

But I agree with other panelists that the overall environment is still fragile. Today’s jobs report was encouraging in terms of job creation but the overall jobless rate is still very high. Seemingly remote events like European sovereign debt can still rattle U.S. equity markets, and consumer confidence along with them. I’m not suggesting it will take a “perfect storm” of good news to drive retail sales by the end of 2010, but I do feel that second-half gains will be more modest.

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