What we're buying — and not buying — says a lot about how consumers are feeling these days.
It also says a lot about the American economy, considering that consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of all U.S. economic activity. Here's a look at what people are and aren't buying.
WHAT WE'RE BUYING: People are buying more garden products and paint, especially in areas with high foreclosure rates like California, according to Home Depot. CEO Frank Blake told investors that as homes are sold as part of the foreclosure process, that spurs sales of paint and carpet upgrades, since owners want to improve their new homes.
WHAT WE'RE NOT: Home Depot said consumers continued to limit their purchases of bigger items like appliances.
WHAT WE'RE BUYING: Target says the items people feel they need the most, like products related to health care, food and beauty, are doing the best. The beauty category benefited from people making those buys at Target rather than in more expensive stores.
WHAT WE'RE NOT: Clothes and home goods were weak in Target's second quarter, and Kathy Tesija, executive vice president of merchandising, summed up the consumer mindset in one word: "cautious."
WHAT WE'RE BUYING: Spam, Spam, Spam. Hormel said sales of its meat-in-a-can continued to rise in the quarter, gaining in the low double digits, while sales of other canned items and Hormel chili kept improving.
BJ's Wholesale Club, which has been seeing more customers coming in, said sales of cereal, meat and household items made gains in its second quarter.
WHAT WE'RE NOT: Hormel said customers bought fewer of its more expensive items, like microwavable meals.