September 5, 2003
Economic Indicators Improve in Key Consumer Markets
Prospects could be improving for a moderate retail recovery for wool in early 2004, according to The Woolmark Company (TWC).
?There is mounting evidence of better economic growth in the U.S., resulting in part from resilient consumer spending that has been boosted by tax cuts and refunds and historically low interest rates,? reports TWC?s September Market Briefing. ?However, consumers remain cautious and value-conscious, given high levels of personal debt and a fragile job market.?
TWC says that consumer sentiment in Japan is improving slowly on the back of rising employment and wages, with household spending in June accelerating faster than at any time in the last 20 years, assisted by summer bonuses.
Retail sales in China are also said to have rebounded sharply in June and July after the SARS downturn.
Continental Europe remains stagnant, although there has been a mood shift in Germany over the last few months and a growing feeling that the low point in the economic cycle has passed.
TWC forecasters conclude: ?While the retail outlook remains challenging for wool textiles and apparel in the run-up to the autumn/winter 2003/04 season, early macro-economic signals are emerging that point to the potential for an improvement in global retail demand for wool in 2004.?