While the news is good, not great, the trend is encouraging. Today's Wall Street Journal highlights how halfway through 2013, we have the highest consumer confidence levels in years. And while retail sales in July only climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.2%, it represents the fourth consecutive month of increases. Economists suggest the primary drivers are the increases shoppers are seeing in the value of their homes and retirement accounts. "A stronger jobs recovery would certainly be welcome, but consumers have a lot more going for them than we have seen in quite some time," said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West.
As we head into the important back to school buying season, expectations are pretty low, but retailers overall having done a better job controlling inventory. Coupon site RetailMeNot said its study of tens of thousands of back-to-school offers from hundreds of retailers found the same level of discounts as last year without any major fluctuation, with an average discount of 10% to 20% and free shipping remaining a constant.