Retail sales reported this morning showed that spending grew 3.2% year over year in September, which is a less than robust growth rate. The growth rate is pretty consistent with what one might expect to see in the late innings of an economic cycle. The recovery phase is long over, and so growth now needs to be driven by productivity, population, credit and (on a nominal basis) inflation.
The retail sales data shown here is nominal (not adjusted for inflation) meaning that it should have a reasonably strong correlation to top-line growth at many S&P 500 companies. It will probably be tough to get high single digit earnings growth with low single digit revenue growth. Retail sales data captures about 30% of GDP.