Do consumers know something financial markets don't? That's the question raised by today's figures, showing that high street spending is much stronger than economists expected.
The value of sales grew 6.6% in the 12 months to February, the biggest annual increase for six years. Seasonally adjusted, the volume of sales has risen 2% since December. And before seasonal adjustment, sales rose by 1.7% in February, the third best February since records began in 1970.
This isn't just because of higher spending in food shops; sales volumes by non-food stores have risen 1.2% in the last two months and 5.2% in the last 12.
Now, if you believe in the wisdom of crowds or in the permanent income hypothesis, this indicates that consumers are confident about their economic future. It seems they aren't spooked by higher food prices and utility bills - perhaps because they had reined in spending in anticipation; sales volumes stagnated between September and December.
Perhaps, instead, consumers are looking at the fact that their bank deposits are equivalent to over a years' after-tax income; low unemployment; and high profits, which are usually a portent of employment and real wage growth. They're spending because things aren't nearly so bad as the City's panic would have us believe.
What other explanations could there be? City economists are scrabbling around for excuses. February's unusually bright weather got people into the shops. And the early Mothers' Day also inflated sales, as folk bought harps for their mams.
There's something in these. But they don't fully disguise the important fact - that the real economy is in far better shape than the financial one - something which many "experts", funnily enough, aren't keen to point out.