Bleaker outlooks at retailers like Wal-Mart and Macy's are raising doubts that consumers will spend enough in coming months to lift the still-subpar U.S. economy.Technorati tags: Wal-Mart retail business big box news economy politics walmart
Though the economy is growing steadily, Americans are being hampered by weak pay, higher taxes and tepid hiring. Sluggish overseas economies are also slowing sales for U.S. retailers. It's a picture the Federal Reserve will weigh in deciding whether to scale back its bond purchases as soon as next month.
"Consumers aren't going to start spending with abandon until we see much stronger job and wage growth," says Mark Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo.
Average weekly paychecks have grown just 1.3 percent since the recession ended more than four years ago. Over the past 12 months, pay has trailed even low inflation. That's partly why spending has remained lackluster and why many Americans may be postponing purchases at department stores so they can buy cars, homes and other costly necessities.