Consumers have been spending more, and the economy has been expanding, but some retailers are getting hit with steep discounts as Congress considers whether to increase federal stimulus spending.
The latest retail sales figures from the Commerce Department showed that a 3% increase in the price of an appliance in June was a boon for the struggling economy.
But the big retailer, Costco Wholesale Corp., said the average price of a microwave, refrigerator and freezer rose by 5.3% in June from the previous month.
And it reported its first quarterly loss in four years as the cost of goods rose 2.6% to $4.05 per unit.
The consumer spending boom that began after the Great Recession has slowed, as people are forced to shop online, and companies have had to cut jobs.
In a statement, Costco said the rise in sales of its appliances was due in part to a drop in orders for the microwave, a refrigerator and a freezer.
The company reported that its wholesale business, which includes its two largest department stores, Costco and Best Buy, lost $5.3 billion last year.
“Consumers are looking for more choices and convenience, but they are also demanding more of their money,” Costco said in a statement.
Congress will vote Tuesday on a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which would provide $7.5 trillion in tax cuts and $1 trillion in new spending over 10 years.
That bill is expected to pass, but it is unlikely to receive the 60 votes needed to pass.
That would trigger a government shutdown and allow the president to call a new election.
The bill would cut spending on Medicaid and other social programs and boost the federal deficit by $716 billion over the next decade.
It also would boost the retirement income eligibility limit, which was set at 65 years old in the stimulus bill.
The unemployment rate fell to 7.4% in the fourth quarter from a previous 8.4%.
Unemployment insurance benefits also rose for the first time in four months to $10.10 a week, the highest level since January.
The number of people working part time has dropped from about 22 million in October 2011 to 17.3 million in June, according to the Labor Department.
The jobless rate fell for the fourth time in five months, to 6.3%, but the number of Americans who were actively seeking work also fell to a 14-year low of 22.3%.