Could it be the return of the great US shopper?
Retailers there have announced better than expected sales for September. Based on 30 of the biggest US store groups, sales climbed 0.6 percent. Many of them still posted declines in sales, but the drops were more moderate than analysts had forecast. There were reasons – September last year was a weak month when Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy triggered a global financial crisis. And the US Labour Day bank holiday weekend was later this year which pushed a big chunk of sales from August into September. The hope now is that shoppers’ purse strings will loosen further ahead of the crucial holiday season. Unemployment has a major effect on spending and there too there was good news. Last week, the number of US workers filing new claims for jobless benefits slid to a nine-month low. A persistently weak labour market has cast doubts over the strength and sustainability of a recovery even though government data suggests the US economy started growing again in the third quarter.