Pointing to the current turmoil in the sub-prime mortgage financing market as one of the pressures on consumer spending, Morgan Stanley Research North America reported its proprietary Truckload Freight Index for the week ended August 10th was exhibiting a normal seasonal downtrend.
Retailers posted weaker than expected retail sales in July and major truckload shippers like Wal-Mart expected softness through the third quarter, said Morgan Stanley.Commerce Department figures released just after the Morgan Stanley report indicated surprisingly better retail results than expected. After a 0.7% drop in June retail sales, July moved up a very slight 0.3%. Offsetting some of the concerns over the mortgage meltdown are stronger employment numbers and rising incomes.
But, even if July numbers appear to be better than individual retailers’ reports might have suggested, they don’t yet reflect consumer confidence in the wake of some dramatic drops in stocks and the Federal Reserve intervention adding to the money supply.
Other sources indicate retailers have been moving goods even earlier in the year to have them in time for the peak retail season. Whether retail demand will match supply strategies won’t be clear until holiday buying starts—or doesn’t.