Consumer hints

Posted by: Paul Donovan

16 Apr 2020
  • With the coronavirus making survey-based economic data less and less reliable, economists are having to broaden their data sources to understand the economy. Barclaycard released UK credit card data for March, which of course fell.
  • Barclaycard had UK spending on digital services rising. The British Retail Consortium reported online sales up almost 20% (online spending is around 20% of UK retail sales). However, countries with less developed online sectors may have less of an offset. It is also worth remembering that in most economies, retail sales are about a third of total consumer spending.
  • The US Fed's Beige Book of anecdotal evidence is a sentiment survey (of course). Yesterday's release had everyone saying "it's bad, it's really bad". It is hard to know what other anecdotes could be given. The balance of price pressures was clearly disinflationary, with some selected price rises where demand outstripped supply.
  • US initial jobless claims are the main data release for today. US claims numbers include furloughed workers. (In Europe, furloughed workers are not counted as unemployed). The evidence is that nearly all the rise in claims has been due to furloughed workers. German consumer price data was released, unrevised and uninteresting.

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