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When No News is Good News for the Economy

tv staticThere were positive signs and not-so-positive signs to be found in this morning’s essentially flat retail sales report from the Commerce Department.

But unlike some of the gloom you may be reading this morning from other observers, our senior research fellow, Bob Hughes, says a mixed report actually adds up to a modestly upbeat sign for the economy.

Retail sales were unchanged in April, but figures for March were revised upward to a  1.1 percent gain. Sales at sporting goods stores, restaurants, drug stores, and building materials stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot showed strength, while sales of autos, groceries, furniture and electronics were down. Online retailers showed a notable gain.

Even gas stations, strangely, showed lower sales, even though prices have tipped higher during the month.

Hughes said the fact that there were pockets of strength, that total retail sales aren’t backsliding, and there were upward revisions to March, shows things are pointed in the right direction and poised for positive momentum in the months to come.

“It would have been nice to see stronger spending, but even a mixed report at this point is a favorable sign we’re coming out of the soft patch,” Hughes said.

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