TheStreet.com’s Marek Fuchs notes that recent coverage of July retail sales data was all over the place, with some business journalism outlets reporting that sales were affected by the hot weather and others stating the complete opposite.
Fuchs wrote, “Let’s start at the beginning of the alphabet with the Associated Press. They told us that worried retailers got a reprieve in July, ‘scoring solid gains as searing heat in much of the country sent consumers back into the stores in search of summer clothes.’
“Walking this line of thought, you have to believe that people sitting at home in the comfort of central air suddenly rushed out into the heat in order to get tank-tops, whereupon, mission complete, they returned to the comfort of their central air.
“From that idea in the lead, we are then warned later on in the story not to over interpret the month, because it’s one of the least important on the retailing calendar, one in which stores are cleared out to make room for fall lines. Next, an economist told us that high temperatures can be both good and bad for retail.”
Later, Fuchs pointed out, “Speaking of heat stroke, in the middle of the alphabet, MarketWatch was telling us this in a headline: ‘Blazing temperatures damage July retail sales.’
“Remember that lead about people rushing out to shop for summer clothes. Here’s MarketWatch: ‘Scorching temperatures throughout much of the country kept consumers indoors in the final weeks of July, but strength in the first two weeks helped many of the biggest retailers turn in robust sales.’
“Wait, does L come before M? Whoops. Because in the lead to its article, ‘Retail Sales Better Than Expected,’ the Los Angeles Times had something else altogether: ‘Retailers logged sales that were generally better than expected in July as temperatures sizzled and shoppers picked up summertime bargains while cooling themselves in malls.’
“Got that? It wasn’t the cool clothes, but the cool malls.”
Read more here.