Retailers remain discouraged about consumer spending, at least judging by the July figures from the Port of Long Beach. Imports fell 18.6 percent from a year earlier and exports declined 29.3 percent. Overall, traffic was down 23.2 percent. (The Port of Los Angeles has not yet released its July data.) Traffic has been down all year and forecasters expect the slump to continue well into 2010. The disappoiinting retail report for July, even with the cash for clunkers program, points to an American consumer who is being careful about spending. From the NYT:
Economists, who had been expecting an increase of 0.7 percent, called the numbers a sobering reminder of the persistent weakness in consumer spending, which has made up 70 percent of the United States economy in recent years. "This is only a little piece of what is a huge seismic shift -- a return to savings by American consumers and a shift away from spending," said Allen Sinai, president of Decision Economics. "Without the consumer, the economy will not have any kind of a typical recovery, and will grow very, very slowly for a long time."
As long as consumers aren't spending, cargo traffic will be down.