Retail Sales Outlook

My favorite source for all information retail is Jennifer Black of Jennifer Black & Associates.  Here's an interesting comment on July's retail sales:

As consumer spending continues be sluggish there
are signs in the economy that the recession may be close to an end as we are
seeing improvement in manufacturing, employment picked up in the month and
construction spending also saw a slight uptick. 
fell at the slowest pace in 11 months. 
New orders and production grew at the fastest clip in two years.

 We believe that retailers are facing additional
headwinds in the month of July with the shift of the tax-free holidays from
July into August.  This coupled with
parts of the country that faced cooler weather, especially the Eastcoast, we
believe impacted sales and traffic. 
However, the Westcoast was going through a heat wave with temperatures
reaching the 100’s for the last 1.5 weeks of July, which drove people to the
malls where they found comfort. 

Here is an interesting perspective on fashion:

believe we have entered a new era of retail, putting the spotlight on fashion
and the urgency for consumers to be on the cutting edge with the help of new
technologies that have uncovered a barrage of opportunities available through
MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and blogging that allows consumers to hear it first
from celebrities, designers, friends, etc.  Trends will appear quicker and
depart quicker as the fashion world moves through the Internet at a speed of
light, in our opinion. 

I think that consumers will be somewhat more value oriented than they were a few years ago, though not going so far as my grandparents' generationBut people will still want to look cool, so look for more grass roots oriented trend setting, as befits the new social networking lifestyle.