Retail Sales Show Strength in June 2011

No matter how we analyze the data, retail sales improved in June 2011. The headlines say the increase was 0.1% (which is microscopic and below the margin of error), but Econintersect’s analysis suggests the growth is a larger 0.5%.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for June, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $387.8 billion, an increase of 0.1 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month, and 8.1 percent (±0.7%) above June 2010. Total sales for the April through June 2011 period were up 7.7 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The April to May 2011 percent change was revised from -0.2 percent (±0.5%)* to -0.1 percent (±0.2%)*. Retail trade sales were up 0.2 percent (±0.5%)* from May 2011, and 8.5 percent (±0.7%) above last year. Gasoline stations sales were up 23.6 percent (±1.7%) from June 2010 and nonstore retailers sales were up 12.3 percent (±3.0%) from last year.

June was again a record month, with 5 of the last 7 months having record sales.  It is hard to see anything in this data which suggests the consumer is backing away from the trough.

The growth in retail sales was moderate across all sectors except discretionary (eating out, furniture, electronics).  Gasoline sales also fell (gas prices down – you can buy the same amount of gas for less money).

Even looking at inflation adjusted retail sales, the consumer is buying more this year than last – at least 4% more during 2011 compared to 2010. This data is an early indication that the economic soft spot may be ending.

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