This morning we were greeted by some pretty dismal retail sales figures, but according toYahoo's Daniel Gross, you shouldn't fret just yet. The reason we were so bummed about the numbers is that they were the latest in what feels like a pile-on: our jobs numbers were pretty depressing, unemployment ticked up, and it's been forecasted that our our exports will slow. All of that downturn talk makes consumer spending really, really important. Because we're optimists and really like the idea of a growing economy, we're going to put a lot of faith into Gross's analysis of the situation:
Overall, retail sales in May came in at $404.596 billion, down from $405.287 billion in April. Americans thus spent $691 million less at all retail outlets in May than they did in April. That's a fair amount of lost economic activity. Now go look at the line for "gasoline stations." In April, Americans spent $45.871 billion at gasoline stations. In May, that figure fell to $44.873 billion. That's a one-month decline of $998 million, and it more than accounts for the entire decline. In fact, in May, retail sales at outlets not including gasoline stations actually rose by $307 million.