Strong Retail Sales for November 2010

Very strong retail sales numbers were recorded in the advanced data for November 2010.  The headlines:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for November, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $378.7 billion, an increase of 0.8 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, and 7.7 percent (±0.7%) above November 2009. Total sales for the September through November 2010 period were up 7.8 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The September to October 2010 percent change was revised from +1.2 percent (±0.5%) to +1.7 percent (±0.2%).

Retail trade sales were up 0.9 percent (±0.5%) from October 2010, and 8.1 percent (±0.7%) above last year. Nonstore retailers sales were up 14.2 percent (±3.1%) from November 2009 and auto and other motor vehicle dealers sales were up 12.8 percent (±2.5%) from last year.

The advance estimates are based on a subsample of the  ensus Bureau’s full retail and food services sample. A stratified random sampling method is used to select approximately 5,000 retail and food services firms whose sales are then weighted and benchmarked to represent the complete universe of over three million retail and food services firms. Responding firms account for approximately 65% of the MARTS dollar volume estimate.

Econintersect’s review of the unadjusted data easily confirms the strong November data – with sales now comparable to pre-recession levels.

There is speculation that December 2010 data will be weaker than previous years – as retailers are pulling the sales forward.  This speculation may have some logical basis, as consumer confidence and consumer sentiment remain very low (see and the Conference Board Christmas spending survey showed a decline of 6.7% from last year.

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