Good news: June's retail numbers are out, and they've beat economists' predictions, rising 0.6 percent. On the other hand, if you discount auto and gas sales, retail actually fell by a thin 0.2 percent margin. But a bump in auto sales is good news because it reflects positively on consumer confidence. And yet, firms that depend on more discretionary spending like restaurants and department stores continue to suffer. How can we make sense of these figures? As always, let's look at some graphs:
But what's going on inside that 2008-9 free fall? This second graph demonstrates more acutely the month over month change since the recession started. As you can see, we've applied the breaks since 2008 (knock on wood), but as the economy has begun to pick up in 2009, our acceleration has been inconsistent. This is, however, the first time since mid-2008 that we've seen consecutive month-over-month retail growth.