Two pieces of news provide a flicker of hope amid the doom and gloom.
NEW YORK, Feb. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index (Index) moved down slightly in January, but remained in positive territory. The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending[i].
"All components of the Index this month declined slightly, though such volatility is consistent with a recovering economy," said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte's senior U.S. economist. "The Index still indicates a positive environment for consumers, which may help sustain current spending levels."
The Index, which comprises four components -- tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices – fell to 4.0 this month from 4.3 last month.
"Despite a colder than usual winter, retailers may benefit from 'spring fever' once the chilly temperatures subside," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and Retail & Distribution sector leader. "Consumers may feel like they're coming out of hibernation after many frigid, stormy weeks and quickly warm up to the idea of shopping for spring apparel, gardening supplies or outdoor gear. Retailers should be ready to capitalize on that excitement, starting with mobile and online awareness efforts now, so that their brands are top of mind when consumers venture out."
Highlights of the Index include:
Tax Burden: The tax rate remains at approximately 11.8 percent, with only a 0.3 percent increase from the month prior.
Initial Unemployment Claims: The four-week moving averageof initial unemployment claimsrose to 359,000, nearly an 11 percent rise from the previous month.
Real Wages: Real hourly wages ticked down 0.2 percent to $8.81 in December but remain among the highest levels seen over the past year.
Real New Home Prices: New home prices dipped 0.6 percent to $115,000 from $116,000 in the previous month.
For a historical analysis of Deloitte's Consumer Spending Index compared to real consumer spending, visit: www.deloitte.com/us/retail/consumer-spending-index/January2014
About Deloitte's Retail & Distribution PracticeDeloitte is a leading presence in the retail and distribution industry, providing audit, consulting, risk management, financial advisory and tax services to more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 retailers. With more than 1,400 professionals, Deloitte's retail & distribution practice provides insights, services and solutions assisting retailers across all major subsectors including apparel, grocery, food and drug, wholesale and distribution and online. For more information about Deloitte's retail & distribution sector, please visit www.deloitte.com/us/retail-distribution.
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[i] The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index is a proprietary methodology that analyzes economic factors to gauge consumer cash flow as an indicator of future spending. Deloitte's analysis includes data from the U.S. Commerce Department, Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Labor.