Are Consumers Coming Out of Hibernation?
Things might be shaping up in terms of the economy as U.S. retailers, posting their monthly sales, are showing more positive results than they've had in months. In fact, it's the best performance since the recession started in 2007. Experts are chalking up the swing to lean inventories, which meant they did not need to resort to severe discounting tactics.
Despite many of the largest retailers no reporting monthly sales data, the overall February results are an indication that consumers are coming out of hibernation.
According to Businessweek, three-quarters of the 28 retailers in the Thomson Reuters index beat expectations. Sales could have been even better, however, record-setting snow in much of the eastern part of the country curbed gains, Businessweek reported.
"We're going on four or five months here of continuous incremental growth," Janet Hoffman, global managing director of Accenture's Retail practice, told Businessweek. "It's not breakaway spending, but I think that there is enough evidence to tell us that the consumer is happy to be back in the marketplace shopping."
Even retailers in sectors that have struggled in the past year, like department stores, were able to beat expectations. Macy's (M.N) said sales at stores open at least a year increased 3.7 percent in February, and Dillard's (DDS.N) reported a 2 percent rise.
February is typically the slowest sales month of the year and today's report could be indicative of the poor results from the same time last year — the height of the recession when shoppers were seeking discounted merchandise.