Monday 30 March 2009

What happened in February

The UK posted a monthly fall of 1.9 pc in retail figures for February. this takes actual retail growth to 0.4 pc, its weakest since 1995. Pundits were largely surprised again at this fall it seems. Yet again we must point out to the analysts what ordinary people already knew. It SNOWED for February. Not a few flakes, but hard enough to shut the schools and close down every single bus and train in London.

The effects on just in time stocks will have been momentarily felt just after the snow melted too. Weather has a tremendous impact on UK shoppers, largely because we don't have too much of it.
The splendid sun of late march will have crimped some figures too, for the same, but opposite reason. Not as severely as the snow which will have removed 2 or 3 days total sales from the calendar but Brighton will have done better than Crawley last week. Seaside on a sunny but chilly day will have seen increased footfall, and beaten the indoor shopping centres. Shock horror it will happen again in May.
Which should remind us that at some point in October retail analysts will again be surprised when the economic numbers begin to become good. That, as we already know, may have something to do with the economy starting to compare against those hideous end of year falls from 2008. If we are trading down on 2008 figures we will really be in trouble.

However in the USA, which also posted some pretty gloomy retail numbers last week, there were some genuinely surprisingly good ones. A 3.4% increase in Durables, which are things like fridges, cars,aircraft etc which should provide hope that the bottom of the recession in the USA at least has been reached. It was certainly reported that way here. by Stephen Gallagher, chief U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York, who said .."After some horrific data, we’re seeing some stability...“It’s not going to be downhill forever..”

The rest of the numbers don't really bear this out:
Business investment in new equipment fell last quarter at the fastest pace since 1958.. the maker of chips for the five largest mobile-phone makers, said it plans to cut more than 1,700 jobs, or about 25 percent of its workforce..and so on. However New home sales WERE up 4.7% {Still down overall 41% on the boom though} So maybe some green shoots in the USA.

And as we know, if it starts in America, it will get here eventually. About a 6 - 12 month lag at the present.


Thud said...

I fear we have a long way to go both here and in the U.S. I did just recieve an offer on a house i built recently in the U.S. so perhaps property values have reached an attractive enough level to tempt buyers.

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Letters From A Tory said...

New home sales will need to shown a consistent trend over several months to really provide any confidence. Bankruptcy data is also really important, as this gives an idea of what scale the credit problems are still affecting businesses.

Bill Quango MP said...

Thud. Yes agree. The data isn't strong enough yet. The big boost to confidence comes with average house price rises. Even 5% will push those waiting it out to move.
Then its just a case of controlling the next bubble.

Thanks.. mmm fresh spam.

Quite right. The USA green shoots statement did look a little premature.

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