Two weeks ago, when Bank of America found that its weekly retail spending data has continued coming in far weaker than expected compared to 2013, it did the laughable: it blamed not the weather in general, but one storm in particular, to wit: "once again adverse weather potentially impacted spending last week, as the storm “Titan” moved across the US over the weekend of March 1st and 2nd and was followed by yet another cold spell." Two weeks later, after shockingly BofA finds precisely the same weakness continuing into the end of a balmy March, it no longer even bothers looking for excuses. The sad reality: there are none.
Our weekly internal BAC card (credit+debit) retail ex. gas spend data for last week (ended March 21st) rose 2.7% over the same week last year, broadly in line with the 3.0% increase the prior week and sharply above the 1.7% YoY spending growth in February and 1.0% for January. However, while retail spending thus appear on an accelerating path away from the cold months, growth rates remain well below last year’s numbers of 5.3% and 3.5% for the third and second week of March, respectively. Finally, note that our internal data is often not a good predictor of the official Census Bureau data.
Of course, the data would be a great predictor if it was "predicting" a bullish print.
We wonder how many months of balmy spring, summer and fall weather it will take before economists finally admit that the drop in consumer spending has nothing to do with climatic conditions (hint: Amazon.com), and everything to do with the fact that consumer are tapped out. Wild guess here: many.