Hopes that shoppers would quickly regain the pep they showed this spring were dashed Friday, if they hadn’t been already, by indications consumers are both feeling worse about the economy and socking away more money than they have in a year.
The S&P Retail Index still fared relatively well for the day, rising 1 percent, or 4.15 points, to 405.06. Retail stocks slipped 0.8 percent for the week, but rose 5 percent for all of July. Of the 172 stocks tracked by WWD, 71 rose, eight held steady and 93 fell last week.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers index on sentiment fell to 67.8 in July from 76 in June, erasing nearly all the gains seen over the past year.
“Scarce jobs and stagnating incomes have been the top concerns of consumers for some time,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist at the Surveys of Consumers. “What changed in July was their recognition that the anticipated slowdown in the economy will keep jobs scarce for some time. Rather than itching to resume old spending habits, consumers have begun to actively embrace a more defensive outlook, making them more likely to further pare their debt and increase saving and reserve funds.”
The Commerce Department’s advance reading of second-quarter gross domestic product also showed the economy grew slower than economists expected. GDP gained at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in the second quarter, less than the 2.7 percent analysts were looking for and down from 3.7 percent growth seen in the first quarter.
Second-quarter disposable personal income inched up 1.1 percent from the first quarter, but the savings rate as portion of that income rose to 6.2 percent from 5.5 percent in the first quarter. That marks the highest quarterly savings rate since the second quarter of 2009, when shoppers held on to 7.2 percent of their disposable income.
All that translates into prospects for a tough second half as retailers try to attract consumers, who clearly have things on their minds beyond shopping.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 1.22 points to 10,465.94 Friday, logging a 0.4 percent rise for the week and a 7.1 percent gain for the month.
Internationally, the CAC 40 in Paris, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo and the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong all posted gains of 1 percent or better last week, as the FTSE 100 fell 1 percent in London and the DAX slipped 0.3 percent in Frankfurt.