Retail sales became the latest major economic statistic to join the "bad but improving" camp. Although down slightly over the past year, retail sales made a strong recovery on a month-over-month basis. The recovery was broad-based with every major sector growing over the past month, while discretionary sectors made the biggest improvements. These massive monthly swings will likely stabilize as direct to consumer stimulus fades and pent-up demand dissipates. As we have said before, consumers' willingness and ability to spend will be a major determinant of how the economic recovery takes shape on a broad scale.
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