Is Consumer Spending Stabalizing? More Grand News For Wal-Mart (WMT) Apple (AAPL) And Amazon (AMZN), Bad News For Sears (SHLD)

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One piece of data does not a trend make.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Poll shows a little uptick last week. But, coming in the holidays, people’s spirits many be brightening. Come the cold and Winter dark days of January and the pendulum may swing back toward despair.

New research from consumer polling company ChangeWave contains a bit of good news, if it is not a mirage that will disappear by their next survey.

The survey of 2,715 U.S. consumers was conducted from December 2nd to the 9th.

Some of the findings:

"Three-in-five (60%) U.S. respondents say they’ll spend less money over the next 90 days, 1-pt worse than the previous survey in November 2008. Just 11% say they’ll spend more money – 1-pt better than previously."

"Three-in-five (60%) U.S. respondents say they’ll spend less money over the next 90 days, 1-pt worse than the previous survey in November 2008. Just 11% say they’ll spend more money – 1-pt better than previously."

"For the seventh consecutive ChangeWave survey, Wal-Mart (WMT; Net Score = +6) and Costco (COST; +6) remain the retail leaders going forward. However, Wal-Mart shows the most momentum, gaining 1-pt for the second consecutive survey. Costco, on the other hand, has fallen 2-pts since November."

"Once again, the greatest weakness going forward is among the traditional retailers – led by Sears (SHLD; -13), Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBBY; -12), Macy’s (M; -10), JC Penney (JCP; -9) and Linens N Things (-8)."

"Amazon (23%; up 2-pts) and Apple (11%; up 2-pts) are the clear momentum leaders in terms of home entertainment and networking shopping – while Circuit City (9%; down 5-pts) and Target (5%; down 3-pts) show the greatest weakness going forward."

"Respondents were also asked about their current impressions of the economy, and two-thirds (66%) think the overall direction of the U.S. economy is going to worsen over the next 90 days – 9-pts worse than a month ago. Only 9% believe the economy will improve, which is 6-pts worse than a month ago. Moreover, two-thirds (64%) report they are dissatisfied with their personal finances, unchanged from November, while just 4% say they are Very Satisfied – also unchanged. "

Douglas A. McIntyre