No, Virginia, There Is No Bush Boom

From Holden:

Lackluster retail sales in September portend poor holiday sales:

The outlook for the holiday shopping season grew more uncertain Thursday as the nation’s largest retailers reported they had a fourth straight month of tepid sales in September.

High gasoline prices and grocery bills and ongoing job insecurity prompted many consumers to again limit their spending. The disappointing results came from retailers across the industry, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Gap Inc., Federated Department Stores Inc., and J.C. Penney Co. Inc.

“There’s definitely some anxiety out there on the part of consumers,” said Ken Perkins, a research analyst at RetailMetrics LLC, a research firm in Cambridge, Mass.

[snip]

The International Council of Shopping Centers-UBS sales tally of 71 retailers was up 2.4 percent, slightly better than the 2 percent increase that was forecast. The results were higher than the 1.3 percent gain in August, but well off the average 6 percent increase of January through May. The tally is based on what the industry calls same-store sales, or sales at stores opened at least a year. They are considered the best indicator of a retailer’s performance.

The disappointing sales streak left retailers concerned about the holiday season, when many stores hope to bring in as much as half their annual sales. While consumers will of course be out shopping for the holidays, even a minor downward adjustment in spending by each household can add up to billions in lost business for retailers.