More bad news out on the retail sales front. For some odd reason the mainstream media prefers to ignore the ICSC & Redbook weekly retail sales, but I find them incredibly useful. Redbook is reporting a 4.2% decline in overall same store sales. ICSC came in at -0.9% versus last year and flat on a weekly basis. These are not good numbers for green shoot theorists and likely mean the U.S. consumer is even weaker than many suspect. June retail sales are shaping up to be a real disaster.
On the housing front we got more mixed news. Existing home sales came in lower than expected at 4.77M units. This represents a -3.6% year over year change and a 2.4% monthly climb. Year over year prices fell 16.8%. Total inventories fell to 9.6 months – this is certainly the green shoot in the data though still a very high inventory level. The worse than expected results could be signs that we are beginning to move beyond the very strong spring season. The true test of the housing market will come in the back half of the year.