January 15, 2016

December SA Retail Sales Down 0.1 Pct.; Up Only 0.2 Pct. in the Past FIVE Months

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:11 am

I’m amazed that more people didn’t see this coming, but they didn’t, as expectations at Yahoo’s Economic Calendar were for +0.1 percent to +0.2 percent. (UPDATE: The economists Bloomberg consulted apparently DID see it coming — “The 0.1 percent drop matched the median forecast of 84 economists surveyed.”)

From the Census Bureau:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for December, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $448.1 billion, a decrease of 0.1 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month, and 2.2 percent (±0.7%) above December 2014. Total sales for the 12 months of 2015 were up 2.1 percent (±0.4%) from 2014. Total sales for the October 2015 through December 2015 period were up 1.8 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The October 2015 to November 2015 percent change was revised from up 0.2 percent (±0.5%)* to up 0.4 percent (±0.2%).

Retail trade sales were down 0.2 percent (±0.5%)* from November 2015, but up 1.6 percent (±0.5%) from last year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were up 7.6% (±2.1%) from December 2014 and nonstore retailers were up 7.1 percent (±1.2%) from last year.

Sorry, the November revision, which the press will certainly cheer even though they rarely cite downward revisions to prior months, doesn’t make up for the December dive for two reasons. First, December’s raw sales are always the largest in any single month during the calendar year (about 9.6 percent of the full year). Second, a bit of November’s revised increase was made possible by October’s revised decrease.

Third, if you look further back to the past five months, seasonally adjusted retail sales have gone almost nowhere. July was $447.1 billion. Today’s December figure (above) was $448.1 billion, an increase of 0.22 percent in five months (0.04 percent per month).

Even if you factor in falling gas prices, the picture is historically dismal.

Also note that retail sales ex-autos also fell. Seasonally adjusted auto dealer sales in the past two months have flattened.

The press’s go-to excuse, which has been that economic problems in other countries are causing most of the problems seen here, has been exposed as rubbish. The primary problem is that U.S. consumers don’t have money, and they’re not spending money they don’t have — now, even on cars.

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UPDATE: Zero Hedge“US retail sales put the wrap on the weakest year since 2009 as the manufacturing recession is now officially starting to spread to the service sector.”

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1 Comment

  1. Wal-Mart to Shut Hundreds of Stores

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-15/wal-mart-to-shut-hundreds-of-stores-including-express-locations

    Listen to the video at the 1:40 mark. Confirms what Zero Hedge said about the weakest sales since 2009. However the money comes afterward … Black Friday, every day…

    Comment by dscott — January 15, 2016 @ 2:34 pm

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