They make up 60% of our GDP and December's Retail Sales were down 0.7% in December from the previous month, rather than up 3-4% as expected for the holidays. Anything positive this month would be an improvement but the trend has not been our friend recently. Excluding Autos, the trends are far worse as people still bought new cars last year, something the auto industry wisely locks in as 26% of all cars (50M) in the US are leased – so you HAVE to get a new car every 3 years or so.
14.6M cars were sold in 2020 and that's pretty much the amount of lease turnover for a year. Auto Sales overall were down 15.5% from 2019 and even leasing was down at 26% from 30%, so that dropped about 15% too. The key takeaway from the last Retail Sales Report is that it was clear that Consumer Spending decelerated at the end of the fourth quarter, partly because of expiring benefits, weakening confidence in the short-term outlook, and restrictions on certain activities due to worsening coronavirus trends.