A day after the Washington Post offered a dismal report on the status on shopping by U.S. consumers, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew insisted to Newsmax Friday that "this is not an accurate description of the U.S. consumer."
He predicted 2016 will be a year of the strong U.S. consumer. Lew made his remark to us in response to an article in Thursday's Post with the headline: "Unemployment is down. Gas prices are low, Why isn’t America shopping?"
"The economy is bouncing back, and customers just aren’t hitting stores or filling up digital carts like the shopping giants thought they would," wrote Post business reporter Sarah Halzack.
The paper cited dismal retail sales reports from outlets like Gap, Macy’s and Kohl’s.
Lew hit hard when Newsmax asked him about this.
"First of all, I don't think that's an accurate description of the U.S. consumer," he said.
"We have seen from the beginning of this year a strong U.S.consumer. We've seen strong automobile sales, we've seen strong retail sales.
As to Halzack's citing of low sales the previous week at Macy's, the Gap, and Kohl's, Lew responded, "I'm not going to comment firm-by-firm. … But the trend in retail sales has been positive. The U.S. economy is consumer-driven. The consumer is driving the growth against pretty substantial international headwinds in terms of demand that is weak.
"So I actually think that in the United States and globally, the description of the U.S. consumer as weak is not correct."
Lew did concede that "there are different experiences and different sectors and firm by firm experience."
But, he added, "I don't think that's an accurate portrayal of the U.S. consumer."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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