Second half outlook getting shaky?

I wrote the following post on RetailWire in late July, as the NRF revised its sales forecast downward for the second half of 2015. This preceded the various market disruptions in August and early September that have probably put a dent into plenty of consumers’ 401k accounts (and their sense of well-being). Here’s my commentary:

I didn’t buy the overly optimistic NRF number in the first place, and even 3.5% for the full year may be on the high side. If you assume a 40/60 split between first half and second half sales (and 40% may be too low for some retailers), you would still need to hit almost 4% growth in the second half to achieve the forecast for all of 2015. It’s hard to see where 4% growth is coming from, based on the first-half trend.

For all of the positive macroeconomic metrics (especially the unemployment rate), we are living in an “age of anxiety” as far as overall sentiment and consumer spending are concerned. (Just look at the “right track/wrong track” survey results.) Not sure how to explain it, but retailers are showing some signs of strain as a result.

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