If you want a good preview of the next few months of economic activity, it's usually a good idea to see how average, run-of-the-mill consumers are spending their paychecks.
And brother, it's not looking all that great:
Macy's, Costco and other big chains say shoppers are pulling back at their stores and changing what they buy. That could be a red flag for the US economy.
This has been going on for a while. Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette claims that "starting in late March, demand trends weakened further in our discretionary categories."
Costco, meanwhile, is reportedly seeing trends in which consumers are switching from "pricier steaks and beef for cheaper meats like pork and chicken."
This is a trend that has been common in previous recessions, he said.
I'm sorry, a previous what now??
People love their routine food choices. If they're changing them up to save a buck, that's a decent sign that things are starting to get tight.
It's not just at the mid-level retail places either: Even Dollar General says that the economy is "having a significant impact on customers' spending levels and behaviors."
The company slashed its outlook on weak customer demand, sending its stock falling 20% during early trading.