Does this intro make sense to you: "Consumers were eager to buy iPhones and flat-screen TVs in June, but their reluctance to purchase clothing and other non-essentials has retailers worried about the success of the back-to-school shopping season. As merchants reported their generally modest sales gains Thursday, it was clear that consumers' uneasiness about higher good and gas prices and the weakening housing market was forcing many of them to think twice before spending."
So: strong sales in big-ticket electronics is now a sign of widespread panic. Got it. And consumer confidence is low because gas prices are so high. Understood. Although? It seems like the price of gas has been the default summer news story for years so it would be nice -- just this once -- if someone could update the boilerplate copy to include a mention of grocery prices. Oh, thank you, Mr Leubsdorf! Wait a minute. The cost of food (even movie popcorn) is up partly because of ethanol. And Wal-Mart's numbers are up partly because "grocery sales were stronger than general merchandise sales in June." Are earth-friendly alternative fuels creating a boon for WalMart? Couldn't be! That wasn't part of the plan, was it?
And look: WalMart sales of "flat panel televisions, MP3 players, video game hardware and accessories, laptops and desktop computers...had 'significant' year-over-year gains." Oh my God. Even WalMart shoppers are buying flatscreens. Our economy is doomed!