In this appearance on After the Bell on Fox Business Network on March 13, 2014, Steve Odland explains how February 2014 retail sales grew by only .3% and January sales were adjusted down to -.6%. So unfortunately, while February looks a little better, January became worse so in the past quarter retail sales in total still are down. This is an issue since 70% of our GDP is reliant on consumer spending and retail sales are the earliest predictor of GDP trends.
Weather clearly was an issue and while some of those sales will bounce back, some will be lost permanently. Luxury goods and E-commerce sales are doing well while most mass merchants and department stores are not. This indicates that those with money at the high end are spending but the mass markets are not. Clearly, economic weakness is the over-riding concern long term as the weather picture will ease after short-term impact.