``While there is always a lot of "jiggering" of the economic data with seasonal adjustments, such can be quickly eliminated by using a 12-month average to smooth the non-seasonally adjusted numbers. As shown, the annual percentage change of the 12-month average shows retail sales creeping along levels that have normally been coincident with weak economic environments... More troubling is the rise in consumer credit relative to the decline in retail sales as shown below... this suggests is that consumers are struggling just to maintain their current living standard and have resorted to credit to make ends meet.''

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