After three months of falling retail sales, there are warning signs showing in the market for consumer discretionary goods. Consumer confidence is still high, but if it begins to tail off, it could spell trouble for a sector that has been powering the economy. Keris Lahiff reports for CNBC:
Consumer spending has already shown the beginnings of a slowdown. Retail sales in February fell for a third month in a row, a surprise to economists looking for a slight gain and its longest stretch of declines since 2012. Fourth-quarter sales were at their strongest in seven years.
“The consumer is far from dead, but we see enough warning signs out there on the horizon that have caused us to just scale back given the fact that we’re in the seventh or eighth inning of this bull market,” said Tepper.
What money consumers have spent has largely been funded by credit and debt. Household debt in the U.S. over the fourth quarter increased at its fastest pace in a decade, while the personal savings rate dropped to its lowest level since 2008.
“At this point even a modest tick down in consumer confidence coupled with rebuilding up that savings can really dent consumer spending,” said Tepper.
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