Nice Rebound for Business Sales In May 2011

The press release from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce (Census Bureau) says business sales are down 0.1% in May 2011.  Econintersect analysis shows sales are likely up 2.5% month-over-month using unadjusted data.

The way data is released, differences between the business releases pumped out by the US Census are not easy to understand with a quick reading.  The entire story doesn’t really come together until the Business Sales Report (this report) comes out.

Earlier today (analysis), Econintersect analyzed advance retail sales for June 2011.  That is early data for the month after the data for this post.  This is final data from the Census Bureau for May 2011 for:

The headlines:

Sales. The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that the combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for May, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes, was estimated at $1,184.2 billion, down 0.1 percent (±0.1%)* from April 2011 and up 11.6 percent (±0.4%) from May 2010.

Inventories. Manufacturers’ and trade inventories, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $1,514.0 billion, up 1.0 percent (±0.1%) from April 2011 and up 11.6 percent (±0.4%) from May 2010.

Inventories/Sales Ratio. The total business inventories / sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of May was 1.28. The May 2010 ratio was 1.28.

Even viewing this data with inflation adjustment to consumer prices (which may not necessarily be valid for the manufacturing or wholesale portions of the data), the data has rebounded from last month.

What most analysts pay particular attention to in this report is inventories.  Inventories, expressed as a ratio to sales, grew but remain well within the historical levels for Mays and was lower than 2010.  A unusual rise in this ratio would suggest the economy was contracting.

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