retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal at this hour reports that the US Department of Labor is saying that non-farm payrolls were down 247,000 in July – which was below the 275,000 decline that was expected. At the same time, the unemployment rate was down in July 0.1 percent to 9.4 percent – still a lot higher than the less than ix percent reported just a year ago.

“Though still a terrible loss by historical standards, the data suggest a turning point is at hand after job cuts earlier in the year that totaled as much as 700,000,” the Journal writes. “The economy has lost 6.7 million jobs since the recession started in December 2007 … recent data suggest GDP will start growing again this quarter. The Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index ticked higher in July and is now consistent with GDP growth of a little over 2%. Meanwhile, auto sales rose in July, spurred by the government's cash-for-clunkers program. Auto production to fill depleted inventories should propel GDP this quarter.”

There remain concerns in some quarters that the unemployment rate could soon go above 10 percent, and that unemployment is likely to lag behind other indicators that the recession may be coming to an end.
KC's View:
The recession may end, but recession-minded consumers are not going to change their stripes anytime soon. The key for effective retailers is to maintain a short-term focus on value, but not to lose tough with the enduring values that make them different in the eyes of the consumer.