5 New Signs the U.S. Consumer Is Still Struggling

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A full week removed from a stronger-than-anticipated employment report for June and ahead of the pivotal back-to-school selling season, there are signs the U.S. consumer is struggling more than believed.

The Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLY) has outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average by almost a full percentage point in the last month, while trading relatively in line with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, suggesting investor portfolios aren't properly adjusting for new information on the state of the U.S. consumer.

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Walmart's U.S. president sounds the alarm: "It's really hard to see in our business today ... that it's gotten any better," said Walmart (WMT) U.S. president Bill Simon said on July 7 when asked by Reuters about the improving labor market. Simon added: "We've reached a point where it's not getting any better, but it's not getting any worse, at least for the middle class and down."

The comments from Simon run contrary to what he said company's May 15 first-quarter earnings call. Simon said in May that Walmart has "solid business fundamentals and anticipate our recently launched initiatives and continued price investment will resonate with the customer."

Same-store sales, more than meets the eye: Of the eight retailers that reported June same-store sales, only teen apparel retailer Zumiez (ZUMZ) raised its second-quarter earnings guidance. Gap (GPS) fell short of Wall Street expectations with a decline of 2% in June same-store sales, compared with the consensus forecast for an increase of 0.7%.

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