The Consumer is Far From Dead…

If you believe Best Buy to be a good proxy for retail:

Best Buy 3Q Profit Rises, Boosts Outlook

Tuesday December 18, 9:03 am ET

Best Buy Earnings Rise 52 Pct in 3Q on Sales of Flat-Panel TVs, Boosts Full-Year Outlook

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Best Buy Co., the nation’s biggest consumer electronics retailer, said Tuesday its third-quarter profit jumped 52 percent, boosted by holiday shopping and sales of higher-ticket items such as flat-panel TVs.

The results beat Wall Street expectations and the company boosted its outlook for the year.

Its shares rose more than 2 percent in pre-market trading.

Profit for the quarter ended Dec. 1 rose to $228 million, or 53 cents per share, from $150 million, or 31 cents per share in the prior-year period.

Revenue rose 17 percent to $9.93 billion, from $8.47 billion last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial predicted a profit of 41 cents per share on revenue of $9.44 billion. The earnings estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Same-store sales rose 6.7 percent, helped by higher average selling price and a calendar shift that added an extra week of holiday shopping to the quarter. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least fourteen months, is a key indicator of retail performance since it measures growth at existing stores rather than newly opened ones.

Results were helped by a shift toward higher-ticket items such as video-game consoles, notebook computers, flat-panel TVs and GPS devices.

The company boosted its fiscal 2008 earnings outlook to between $3.10 and $3.20 per share, from a previous range of $3 to $3.15 per share. The company expects revenue of about $40 billion for the year.