Montesi: Let’s start with what is going on with retail sales?
Linneman: You take retail sales and you back out auto and you back out gasoline. You do the same thing, right? And in real terms, it’s at a new all-time high slightly. Just barely at an all-time high. It’s higher than 2008 but only by a percent or so, net of CPI.
Miller: That’s real, not nominal?
Linneman: Yes. Nominal would be 9% above, something like that. But most of it is just inflation that occurred. When I say inflation, I’m just meaning CPI. I’m not doing anything cute. And again, it says that we’re down. We’re roughly 1.5% higher than the previous peak. But we’re 4.5-5 years later, almost 5 years later, and we’ve had about 4% population growth. Remember, I told you GDP is back to essentially the same on a per capita basis? “Store sales” are not back on a per capita basis. They’re up 1.5%, and you’ve had the population grow about 4.25%. So you’re down about 3%, and you say well how did that happen?