Clearly, ongoing concerns about the lack of job growth and the slowdown in the economy are weighing on consumers.
Consumers appear to be again tightening their belts in terms of spending in recent months, particularly on larger ticket items such as automobiles. While the availability of credit is not as great a problem as was the case earlier last year, the desire to borrow to continue to spend has been meaningfully diminished.
Discretionary spending continues to be hurt by the lack of employment opportunities.
Greater confidence in the employment environment and improving consumer sentiment are needed to see a boost in consumer spending.
Many consumers have put off large purchases in an effort to shore up their personal balance sheet and to hedge against further economic slides.
We should see meaningful gains in retail sales if consumers gain confidence in the sustainability of the recovery, but the longer term focus on debt reduction is likely to keep consumer spending from reaching pre-recessionary levels for the foreseeable future.