April 2011 Wholesale Sales: No Signs of Slowing Economy

Econintersect agrees with the US Census view that wholesale sales improved in April 2011.

Sales. The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that April 2011 sales of merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers’ sales branches and offices, after adjustment for seasonal variations and trading-day differences but not for price changes, were $393.5 billion, up 0.3 percent (+/-0.5%)* from the revised March level and were up 14.4 percent (+/-1.4%) from the April 2010 level.  The March preliminary estimate was revised upward $0.4 billion or 0.1 percent.  April sales of durable goods were down 0.6 percent (+/-0.5%) from last month, but were up 10.7 percent (+/-1.4%) from a year ago. Sales of lumber and other construction materials were down 5.0 percent from last month and sales of metals and minerals, except petroleum, were down 3.6 percent. Sales of nondurable goods were up 0.9 percent (+/-0.9%)* from last month and were up 17.5 percent (+/-1.9%) from last year. Sales of petroleum and petroleum products were up 2.3 percent from last month.   

Inventories. Total inventories of merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers’ sales branches and offices, after adjustment for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were $447.2 billion at the end of April, up 0.8 percent (+/-0.4%) from the revised March level and were up 13.8 percent (+/-1.2%) from a year ago.  The March preliminary estimate was revised upward $0.7 billion or 0.2 percent. End-of-month inventories of durable goods were up 0.8 percent (+/-0.4%) from last month and were up 9.4 percent (+/-1.4%) from last April. Inventories of metals and minerals, except petroleum, were up 4.0 percent from last month and inventories of electrical and electronic goods were up 2.2 percent. End-of-month inventories of nondurable goods were up 0.8 percent (+/-0.5%) from March and were up 20.3 percent (+/-2.1%) compared to last April. Inventories of petroleum and petroleum products were up 3.7 percent from last month and inventories of chemicals and allied products were up 2.0 percent.

Inventories/Sales Ratio. The April inventories/sales ratio for merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers’ sales branches and offices, based on seasonally adjusted data, was 1.14.  The April 2010 ratio was 1.14.

This comes on the heels of impressive March 2011 data (analysis here).  You might have expected a down month considering April data has been generally been less good.

The numbers show all time high – 2% over the previous high in 2008.  There are no specific inflation index relative to wholesale prices, but the CPI is up 5.5% over two years and the PPI is up 12% over these two years.  The wholesale price inflation rate likely is between these two numbers.  It is logical to infer that the current wholesale sales value is lower than the 2008 record for April on an inflation adjusted basis.

Overall, the inventory-to-sales ratios – which a rising ratio is an indicator of economic slowing – rose slightly but remains in a historically low range.  Bottom line:  Wholesale sales do not indicate the economy is slowing.

Related Articles

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The Consumer is Bouncing Along the Bottom by Rick Davis

Consumers are Coming to Terms with Frugality by Rick Davis

A Significant Reason Retail Sales do not Indicate Recovery by Doug Short

Strong Retail Sales Do Not Point to Real Economic Growth by Steven Hansen

Business Sales Up Strongly in March 2011 by Steven Hansen

April 2011 Advance Retail Sales: Not Bad , Not Good by Steven Hansen

March Retail Sales: A Slight Decline in Real Terms by Doug Short

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