BTS ’12: The cloudy crystal ball

Second quarter retail sales have been relatively soft (although not a disaster). My recent comments on RetailWire point toward a flat BTS sales trend:

With few exceptions (at the high end and low end of the price spectrum) June’s results were mediocre at best. Even stronger performers like Macy’s and Target have hit a bump in the road for the past couple of months, paralleling the overall economic picture. The jobless report for June that was just released was likewise stuck in neutral.

While there are some signs of optimism — slight upticks in consumer sentiment, lower gas prices, recovery in the housing market — they have not driven hiring to the point where consumers feel “permitted” to spend. I would watch for a difficult BTS compared to 2011’s solid numbers, but I would also expect some lightening of the mood after the election — no matter who wins.

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