The Commerce Department releases the latest numbers on retail sales Friday. Those numbers have been going up these last few months, even as we hear a lot of doom and gloom about malls and department stores.
And while some big brick-and-mortar stores may be suffering, consumers are spending. Online sales are up 13 percent over this time last year.
Kathy Bostjancic, a director at Oxford Economics, said months of job gains are having an effect on consumer confidence.
“Therefore you get the knock-on effect of ‘Well, I have a job, things look pretty secure, therefore I could even take on a little bit of debt, using my credit card,’” she said.
And people are doing just that – spending more on credit. Credit card debt is on the rise and the savings rate is down.
Joel Bines, managing director at consultants AlixPartners, said those two things tell you all you need to know about consumers’ feelings.
“Those are two very positive signals for a strong retail sales number,” he said. “You know, I’m not sure whether those are positive signals for society in general.”
But in the short term at least, retailers can celebrate.