Retail sales and Amazon’s new gizmo — five things to know today

August 13, 2014, 12:16 PM UTC
Inside Macy's Flagship Store Ahead of Earnings Figures
Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Jin Lee — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Hello, friends and Fortune readers.

With a rush of retail earnings, this week has been all about the American consumer — a vital component of the U.S. economy. Today, we get more indications of how Americans are spending their hard-earned money.

1. Macy’s reports

Department stores may seem very 20th century, but they’ve actually had strong sales lately. Macy’s reported a rebound from its downbeat first quarter Wednesday, but it wasn’t as strong as some analysts had hoped. The department store company said it couldn’t make up for the sales shortfall in the first quarter and cut its 2014 outlook.

2. Health of the retailers

Speaking of retail, on Wednesday morning we received the government’s retail sales numbers for July, which were unchanged, missing analysts’ expectations and chalking up the weakest reading in six months.

3. Amazon’s new gizmo

In case Amazon isn’t fully integrated into your life, now the Seattle company is coming out with a mobile credit card reader for brick-and-mortar stores. The app is called Amazon Local Register, and it will cost businesses $10. Not only will the app allow Amazon to compete with companies such as Square, it will also give them insight into their customers offline shopping patterns.

4. The British pound is falling

The UK’s currency is tumbling after traders reined in their expectations for interest-rate increases. The move came after the Bank of England sharply cut its forecast for wage growth this year.

5. RIP Lauren Bacall

Just one day after Robin Williams died, another Hollywood legend is gone. Bacall was a star in the 1940s, appearing with and eventually marrying legendary actor Humphrey Bogart. She kept on acting into her final decade.

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