Business Sales On the Low Side of Trend in April 2011

Business sales came in on the low side of the current range in April 2011.  The data is not terrible, but not close to looking good either.

A note concerning the above graph: it uses the CPI-U.  CPI is the appropriate gauge for retail sales, not necessarily appropriate for wholesale sales, and the PPI is the appropriate index for manufacturing.  So the adjustment for inflation is on the low side, but, even using the PPI for the whole graph, there still is an increase in the rate of YoY growth from March 2010.

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 May 2011.  That is early data for the second month after the data for this post.  This is final data from the Census Bureau for April 2011 for:

The headlines:

Sales. The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that the combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for April, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes, was estimated at $1,185.6 billion, up 0.1 percent (±0.2%)* from March 2011 and up 11.0 percent (±0.5%) from April 2010.

Inventories. Manufacturers’ and trade inventories, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $1,497.5 billion, up 0.8 percent (±0.1%) from March 2011 and up 10.6 percent (±0.4%) from April 2010.

Inventories/Sales Ratio. The total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of April was 1.26. The April 2010 ratio was 1.27.

The headlines are based on seasonally adjusted data – Econintersect uses unadjusted data.

Inventories have risen.

The above graph is NOT adjusted for inflation.  However, the inventory to sales ratios are growing – but are at the bottom of the historical range for Aprils.

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