After weak economic growth at the beginning of 2016, all eyes are fixed on the U.S. consumer. The consumer is really the heartbeat of the domestic economy, and is also vital to pumping life into other economies around the world. So as we head into summer, how is the U.S. consumer faring?

Recently, it’s been a very mixed picture. Earnings season releases have revealed some disappointing results from traditionally stalwart retailers, with many noting a soft spending environment and a seemingly nervous consumer. However, the April retail sales report showed sales rose a robust 1.3% at the headline level, and sales excluding autos and gasoline rose a solid 0.6%. So what gives?

Signs of a healthy consumer?

Source: FactSet, US Census Bureau. As of 5/23/2016.

This is where digging into a report can reveal a little more information. Within the report, we see that department store sales rose only 0.3% month-over-month (m/m), and actually dropped 1.7% year-over-year (y/y). Further, we see that clothing prices dropped 0.3% m/m—which was the second monthly drop in row. So where is the seeming strength coming from? Well, it won’t be a big surprise to most readers that non-store retailers (the archaic government name that encompasses online retailing) rose 2.1% m/m and a robust 10.2% y/y. So part of the reason for the disconnect between major retailers’ earnings reports and the retail sales number can be attributed to the shifting way that consumers are choosing to make their purchases.

But wait….there’s more! (Couldn’t help an old infomercial reference.) It’s not just how they are spending their money that seems to be shifting, but on what. We’ve noted before that it seemed that consumers were looking to spend more on experiences than on tangible goods. Many of those types of items aren’t included in the retail sales number, which means that report is likely underestimating the amount of consumer spending going on. For example, spending on hotels, concerts, airfare and sporting events are usually not counted in the report. Additionally, government reports haven’t seemed to keep up with the so-called “sharing economy,” which includes car services, house and condo rentals, and many other transactions occurring in non-traditional ways. The numbers we do have appear to back up the theory of consumers moving more toward experiences, with real spending (adjusted for inflation) on travel and leisure rising 4.4% in 2015, according to the Department of Commerce.

It appears to us that major retailer reports are painting an overly negative picture, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. The consumer is healing, but appears to remain affected by the financial crisis of 2008. Consumer confidence improved last month, according to the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, and wages have started to show signs of improvement.

Wage increases should help bolster consumer spending

Source: FactSet, U.S. Dept. of Labor. As of 5/23/2016.

One of the biggest changes since the financial crisis has been the unwillingness of consumers, or inability, to add to consumer debt. Consumers burned by borrowing on their houses to finance ever-growing spending levels seemed to gain a dose of discipline—either by choice or by force—leading to more tepid spending growth.

Consumer appetite for debt has decreased

Source: FactSet, Federal Reserve. As of 5/23/2016.

There are signs this is changing, however, as the Federal Reserve reported that April consumer revolving credit (which includes credit cards) rose $11.1 billion, the largest rise since 2001. But it’s not likely to change overnight.

Given the mixed picture painted above, what does it mean? To us, it means the consumer continues to heal from the financial crisis, but is in pretty good shape for the time being. Consumer spending appears to be in line with modest U.S. economic growth, but that doesn’t mean that the coast is clear for the consumer discretionary sector. In our view, retailers will continue to fight for market share in an increasingly competitive environment, with the in-store experience becoming a more vital part of the traditional retailer—likely meaning higher costs for a time. Retailers who make the shopping experience enjoyable and different stand to succeed in this environment, in our view, but those who try to maintain the status quo probably will struggle. Times have and will continue to change, but we believe the American consumer will continue to spend, even as the methods and mix of spending evolve.

Brad Sorensen is managing director of market and sector analysis at the Schwab Center for Financial Research.