The chart below this paragraph - which shows the yearly growth rates of the US retail sales (ex-gasoline) - can partly be explained with the influence of the gas prices. Before the year 2000 gas prices hovered below $2. Cheap gas stimulated the retail sales which`s growth rate fluctuated between 4% and 8%. After the recession 2001/02 and the 9/11 incident retail sales recovered temporarely to a growth rate of around 8%. The sharp rise of the gas prices - beginning in 2003 - slowed retail sales markedly. Therefore the growth of the retail sales decelerated sharply even before the recession of 2008! After 2010 the return of gas prices above $3 slowed retail sales again.
It is highly likely that the national average gas price will drop below $2 in December and will stay there for years to come because the oil flood will continue and will curb the price of crude oil (driveby). Gas prices around or below $2 for years should stimulate economic growth and bring back retail sale growth rates of 6% and more.