What it means: The retail industry tends to think of consumers and sales in absolute terms; prices are up or down, the consumer is healthy or unhealthy. There is usually more nuance to the situation, and consumers’ perception of situations don’t always match what retailers believe to be factual. Consumer reactions to economic uncertainty this year are due not only to actual higher prices and layoffs, but also from media coverage, word of mouth and certain baselines created by consumers to help contextualize changes at retail. For example, gas prices are a baseline indicator that consumers use to guide their judgment around discretionary spending. The retail industry has to combat actual economic and consumer headwinds, but it also needs to adapt to changing sentiments created by the noise around these topics.