December 14, 2017

November Retail Sales Up 0.8 Percent; October Revised Up to 0.5 Percent; Past 4 Months Have Averaged +0.8 Percent

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:49 pm

From the Census Bureau:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for November 2017, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $492.7 billion, an increase of 0.8 percent (±0.5 percent) from the previous month, and 5.8 percent (±0.7 percent) above November 2016. Total sales for the September 2017 through November 2017 period were up 5.2 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The September 2017 to October 2017 percent change was revised from up 0.2 percent (±0.5 percent)* to up 0.5 percent (±0.2 percent).

Expectations were for +0.3 percent in November.

These are very strong numbers.

As seen here, increases during the past four months, which includes the months of this year’s late-summer hurricanes, have totaled 3.2 percent. That’s a monthly average of +0.8 percent. The last time we saw four months with a combined 3.2 percent or more was February thru May of 2014.

Next month, August hurricane-influence -0.1 percent drops off, possibly presaging a four-month total of 4.0 percent, or a monthly average of 1.0 percent — something which has occurred only 4 times in the 26 years of presented at the Census Bureau’s website.

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UPDATE: Zero Hedge notes that the November’s 5.8 percent increase over November 2016 is the largest such increase since March of 2012.

UPDATE 2: For the record, here is how the original announcements and the data currently in the bureau’s report database compare for the first ten months of this year:

- January — originally +0.4 percent, now +0.5 percent (+0.1-point change)
- February — orig +0.1, now -0.2 (-0.3-point change)
- March — orig -0.2, now +0.1 (+0.3-point change)
- April — orig +0.4, now +0.3 (-0.1-point change)
- May — orig -0.3, now 0.0 (+0.3-point change)
- June — orig -0.2, now -0.1 (+0.1-point change)
- July — orig +0.6, now +0.5 (-0.1-point change)
- August — orig -0.2, now +0.1 (+0.3-point change)
- September — orig +1.6, now +2.0 (+0.4-point change)
- October — orig +0.2, now +0.5 (+0.3-point change)

There have been three downward revisions cumulatively totaling 0.5 points. There have been seven upward revisions totaling 1.8 points, including the most recent three in a row totaling 1.0 points.

These misses may not seem like much, but the originals only total 3.0 points, while the numbers as currently revised total 4.3 points. That’s the difference between barely above mediocre and relatively good.

UPDATE 3: Fans of looking at the raw, not seasonally adjusted numbers should note that retail sales in the past four months are up by just a bit less than 5 percent compared to the same four months in 2016.

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