Theoretically, a strong consumer would be well-positioned to acquire a host of durable goods. They should be able to purchase everything from appliances to furniture, electronics to sporting goods, jewelry to medical equipment.
Would it surprise you, then, that durables are down roughly 7.4% on a year-over basis? The last time consumer durables posted data that was this bleak, we were already in a recession. Before that, the recession was not far behind.
Keep in mind, this data precede the inevitable hit that will come from the coronavirus. What’s more, the data dovetail with the 4th quarter earnings for the Consumer Discretionary sector. The segment posted a year-over year decline in earnings of -7.7%.
In a similar vein, one would be inclined to associate a strong consumer with robust import growth. Yet, imports have fallen often dramatically.