econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 12 February 2016

Headline Retail Sales Improved In January 2016?

Written by Steven Hansen

Retail sales improved according to US Census headline data. Our view is that this month's data was weaker than last month, There was a small decline in the rolling averages. Consider that the headline data is not inflation adjusted and prices are currently deflating making the data better than it seems.

Backward data revisions were generally upward.

Econintersect Analysis:

  • unadjusted sales rate of growth decelerated 1.6 % month-over-month, and up 1.4 % year-over-year.
  • unadjusted sales 3 month rolling year-over-year average growth decelerated 0.1 % month-over-month, 2.0 % year-over-year.

Advance Retail Sales Year-over-Year Change - Unadjusted (blue line), Unadjusted with Inflation Adjustment (red line), and 3 Month Rolling Average of Unadjusted (yellow line)

/images/z retail1.png

  • unadjusted sales (but inflation adjusted) up 2.0 % year-over-year
  • this is an advance report. Please see caveats below showing variations between the advance report and the "final".
  • in the seasonally adjusted data - auto sales, sporting goods, non-store retailers, and food services were strong. Gas stations, appliance stores and department stores were weak.

U.S. Census Headlines:

  • seasonally adjusted sales up 0.1 % month-over-month, up 3.4 % year-over-year (last month was 2.1 % year-over-year).
  • the market was expecting (from Bloomberg):
seasonally adjusted Consensus Range Consensus Actual
Retail Sales - M/M change -0.3 % to 0.4 % +0.2 % +0.2 %
Retail Sales less autos - M/M change -0.2 % to 0.3 % +0.1 % +0.1 %
Less Autos & Gas - M/M Change 0.1 % to 0.6 % +0.3 % +0.4 %

Year-over-Year Change - Unadjusted Retail Sales (blue line) and Inflation Adjusted Retail Sales (red line)

Retail sales per capita seems to be in a long term downtrend (but short term trends vary depending on periods selected - see graph below).

Year-over-Year Change - Per Capita Seasonally Adjusted Retail Sales

From the U.S. Census Bureau press release:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $449.9 billion, an increase of 0.2 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month, and 3.4 percent (±0.7%) above January 2015. Total sales for the November 2015 through January 2016 period were up 2.5 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The November 2015 to December 2015 percent change was revised from down 0.1 percent (±0.5%)* to up 0.2 percent (±0.3%)*. Retail trade sales were up 0.3 percent (±0.5%)* from December 2015, and up 3.1 percent (±0.5%) from last year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were up 9.1 percent (±2.1%) from January 2015 and nonstore retailers were up 8.7 percent (±1.2%) from last year.

Seasonally Adjusted Retail Sales - All (red line), All except food services (blue line), and All except motor vehicles (green line)

The differences between the headlines and Econintersect are due to different approaches to seasonal adjustment (see caveats at the end of this post). Long and medium term trends always agree comparing the adjusted to the unadjusted data - it is the short term trends and month-over-month change where the conflict occurs.

Comparison of the Year-over-Year Census Seasonally Adjusted Retail Sales (blue line) and Econintersect's Unadjusted Retail Sales (red line)

Declines of short duration often occur in the seasonally adjusted series without a recession resulting.

Retail and Food Services Sales - Seasonally Adjusted

Using employment as a gauge to check growth, employment in retail has been growing.

Retail Employment - Total Seasonally Adjusted (blue line, left axis) and Year-over-Year Change Unadjusted (red line, right axis)

And finally, as retail sales can be a component of determining a recession start date, the zero line of the graph below could be an indicator a recession was underway (or about to begin).

Retail Sales - Recession Watch Graph

Caveats On Advance Retail Sales

This data release is based on estimates. However, the estimates have proven to be fairly accurate although tend to miss at economic turning points. Therefore up to three months are subject to backward revisions, although normally slight, can sometimes be modest.

The data in this series is not inflation adjusted - and Econintersect adjusts using CPI less shelter CUSR0000SA0L2. The St. Louis Fed also inflation adjusts the Census seasonally adjusted data. The last two recessions began as the inflation adjusted retail sales crossed the zero growth line.

Comparison of Real Year-over-Year Growth between FRED's Real Retail Sales (green line) and Econintersect's Inflation Adjusted Retail Sales

As in most US Census reports, Econintersect does not agree with 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 worth of data. Further, Econintersect believes there is a New Normal seasonality. Using data prior to the end of the recession for seasonal analysis could provide the wrong conclusion.

The impact of the monthly retail sales data on GDP is not straight forward. Real GDP (of which the consumer is over 60%) is adjusted for inflation. Further, GDP is an analysis of quarter-over-quarter or year-over-year growth, while retail sales is a monthly data series.

Econintersect determines the month-over-month change by subtracting the current month's year-over-year change from the previous month's year-over-year change. This is the best of the bad options available to determine month-over-month trends - as the preferred methodology would be to use multi-year data (but the New Normal effects and the Great Recession distort historical data).

From Econintersect contributor Doug Short:

Those of us who routinely track this series know that the Advance Estimate will be followed by a second estimate next month and a third estimate the month after. How big are those revisions? Are they big enough to warrant skepticism about the Advance Estimate? Here is a visualization of the cumulative change from the first to third estimates from January 2007 through March 2014, the most recent month for which we have three data points.



>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<



Permanent link to most recent post on this topic

Click here for Historical Releases Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.



You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.







Econintersect Economic Releases


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
The Destruction of the Existing Workforce
Finance and Growth: The Direction of Causality
News Blog
How Repealing Portions Of The Affordable Care Act Would Affect Health Insurance Coverage And Premiums
Grassroots Terrorism In 2017: A Small But Stubborn Threat
Earthquake Risk: Spotlight On Canada
Federal Income Taxes By Income Bracket
Infographic Of The Day: Guide To Caring For Your First Dog
Early Headlines: Migrants Incr. 41 Pct This Century, Women's March Largest Ever?, GOP ACA Disarray, Trump Hit With Ethics Complaint, Trump Back To '29?, May And Nieto To Visit Trump And More
New Seasonal Outlook Updates from NOAA and JAMSTEC Disagree Dramatically
Earnings And Economic Reports: Week Starting 23 January 2017
France And Germany Differ Starkly On Strong Leaders
Most Flags Combine Red, White And Blue
Electroconvulsive Therapy: A History Of Controversy, But Also Of Help
Super Bowl Ad Prices Doubled In A Decade
What We Read Today 21 January 2017
Investing Blog
The Week Ahead: Political Uncertainty And Market Volatility
Investors: How Not To Lose Everything And Die Broke
Opinion Blog
Retailing In America: Bricks And Torture
Economics, Society, And The Environment: What's Wrong With This Picture?
Precious Metals Blog
Four Catalysts Drive Gold And Silver For 2017
Live Markets
20Jan2017 Market Close: U.S. Stocks Were Up But Off Their Highs Of The Session, Crude Prices Continue To Climb, Next Week May Be Volatile
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government





























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2017 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved