After a rough month, major U.S. retailers are hoping for some good news. They didn't get it today. Sales inched up 0.2 percent in March. That's not much to smile about considering that they fell by 0.4 percent in February and that a big chunk of those sales came from gas stations that are charging more. This report might leave retailers thinking, "If last month was a month with sales up, then I don't want to imagine a down month." Here is what the econ team at JPMorgan Chase had to say:
Today's figures were a bit stronger than market expectations, though clearly still on the weak side. Consumers continue to reel under the weight of higher gas prices, weakening labor markets and declining housing and stock market wealth. As these fundamentals continue to deteriorate, any improvement in consumer spending will have to wait at least until rebate checks are mailed out next month.