Retail sales figures out today

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BRIAN WATT: Have you been spending or saving this summer? Hitting the mall or staying home to save gas? If you won't tell, some numbers due out later this morning probably will. The Commerce Department share its take on Consumer spending in July and retailers will give us some sales numbers for this month. The news from the shops is expected to be mixed at best. Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.


NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: A year ago, consumer spending was supported by the booming real estate market, but the market has started to die down just in time for the all-important holiday shopping season, when many retailers make more than half their profits.

Retail strategist Wendy Liebmann says high gas price are also fueling headaches. She says it's almost as if consumers they have a gas price ticker in their heads.

WENDY LIEBMANN: "Tick tick tick. $3.50 for a gallon of gas. Even if tomorrow I see a fabulous pair of shoes I want to buy for me or my kids, the day after I'm back at the gas tank again, and it reminds me all over again that I have less money to spend."

Other retail analysts say consumers are irrational and will find a way to keep spending, but new figures out this week showed consumer confidence falling to the lowest level since Hurricane Katrina.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer, for Marketplace.

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