May 2014 Business Inventories and Sales Mixed
Written by Steven Hansen
Econintersect‘s analysis of final business sales data (retail plus wholesale plus manufacturing) for May 2014 shows sales decelerated with inventory levels up - however, the inventory levels were within the normal range for periods of expansion. The headlines disagreed saying both sales and inventories rate of growth improved.
- The unadjusted three month rolling average of business sales growth continues to accelerate.
- This is a record current dollar month for sales.
- unadjusted sales rate of growth decelerated 2.4% month-over-month, and up 3.3% year-over-year
- unadjusted sales (inflation adjusted) up 1.0% year-over-year
- unadjusted sales three month rolling average compared to the rolling average 1 year ago accelerated 0.4% month-over-month, and is up 4.3% year-over-year.
- unadjusted business inventories growth accelerated 0.6% month-over-month (up 5.7% year-over-year), and the inventory-to-sales ratio is 1.25 which is slightly above average for Mays during non-recessionary periods.
- seasonally adjusted sales up 0.4% month-over-month, up 4.6% year-over-year
- seasonally adjusted inventories up 0.5% month-over-month (up 5.6% year-over-year), inventory-to-sales ratios were up from 1.28 one year ago – and are now 1.29.
- market expectations were not available.
The way data is released, differences between the business releases pumped out by the U.S. Census Bureau are not easy to understand with a quick reading. The entire story does not come together until the Business Sales Report (this report) comes out. At this point, a coherent and complete business contribution to the economy can be understood.
Today, Econintersect analyzed advance retail sales for June 2014. That is early data for the month following the data for this post. This is final data from the Census Bureau for May 2014 for manufacturing, wholesale, and retail:
Year-over-Year Change Manufacturing New Orders – Unadjusted (blue line) and Inflation Adjusted (red line)
Year-over-Year Growth – Wholesale Sales – Unadjusted data (blue line), Inflation Adjusted Data (red line)
Year-over-Year Change – Unadjusted Retail Sales (blue line) and Inflation Adjusted Retail Sales (red line)
Please see caveats at the end of this post on the differences between Econintersect data analysis methodology and U.S. Census.
Business Sales – Unadjusted – $ millions
This is a record current dollar month for sales for Mays.
Business sales have been quite noisy, and the three month rolling average of the rate of sales growth again decelerated this month.
Year-over-Year Change Business Sales – Unadjusted (blue line) and Inflation Adjusted (red line)
Using inflation adjustments, analysts can more clearly count the quantity of business transactions. Inflation adjusted data also slightly decelerated.
Many analysts pay particular attention to inventories in this report. Inventories, expressed as a ratio to sales, remain well within the historical levels. A unusual rise in this ratio would suggest the economy was contracting.
Seasonally Adjusted Business Inventories Year-over-Year Change – Inventory Value (blue line, left axis) and Inventory-to-Sales Ratio (red line, right axis)
The takeaway from the above graph is that overall inventories rate of growth is accelerating. The above graph is the headline view of inventories. Econintersect uses unadjusted data to look at inventories. The graph below shows the growth or contraction of the inventory-to-sales ratio year-over-year. When the graph below is above zero, inventories are building faster than sales.
Unadjusted Inventory-to-Sales Year-over-Year Change
Caveats On Business Sales
This data release is based on more complete data than the individual releases of retail sales, wholesale sales and manufacturing sales. Backward revisions are slight – and it is unusual that the revisions would cause a different interpretation of a trend analysis.
The data in this series is not inflation adjusted by the Census Bureau – Econintersect adjusts using the appropriate BLS price indices relative to the three data series.
- CPI less shelter for retail sales
- PPI subindex OMFG for manufacturing
- PPI subindex PCUAWHLTRAWHLTR for wholesale sales
As in most US Census reports, Econintersect questions the seasonal adjustment methodology used and provides an alternate analysis. The issue is that the exceptionally large recession and subsequent economic roller coaster has caused data distortions that become exaggerated when the seasonal adjustment methodology uses more than one year’s data. Further, Econintersect believes there is a New Normal seasonality and using data prior to the end of the recession for seasonal analysis could provide the wrong conclusion.
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