Retail sales estimates are not adjusted for inflation, but even so whenever they get down toward the 3% growth level you can be sure there is serious economic trouble.
The six-month average for overall retail sales dropped below 3% in March 2001, the month that marked the start of the official dot-com recession (though that is not the official name for the cyclical peak, it probably should be).
They would remain near or just less than 3% all the way until early 2003, the whole of the “jobless recovery” that convinced Federal Reserve officials more “stimulus” had been warranted even though the official end of the dot-com recession was November 2001.
In April 2007, retail sales growth, on average, fell to nearly 3% and would remain close to that mark while things began to steadily fall apart. They would rise in early 2008 as oil prices skyrocketed on misreading money,