May 15, 2018

Retail Sales: The Beat Goes On (Also the Prior-Month Upward Revisions)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:55 am

From the Census Bureau (eventual but not yet live permanent link):

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for April 2018, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $497.6 billion, an increase of 0.3 percent (±0.4 percent)* from the previous month, and 4.7 percent (±0.5 percent) above April 2017. Total sales for the February 2018 through April 2018 period were up 4.6 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The February 2018 to March 2018 percent change was revised from up 0.6 percent (±0.5 percent) to up 0.8 percent (±0.2 percent).

Retail trade sales were up 0.4 percent (±0.5 percent)* from March 2018, and 4.8 percent (±0.5 percent) above last year. Gasoline Stations were up 11.7 percent (±1.6 percent) from April 2017, while Nonstore Retailers were up 9.6 percent (±1.4 percent) from last year.

The habit of upward revisions which took place during most of last year has continued into this year — though so far it’s been less pronounced:

  • January was originally -0.3 percent. Now, as seen below, it’s -0.2 percent.
  • February was originally -0.1 percent. Now it’s 0.0 percent.
  • March was originally +0.6 percent. Now it’s +0.8 percent.

I’m posting monthly percentage changes below, because the Census Bureau is issuing a comprehensive revision of these numbers for adjusted seasonal factors on May 25, and I want to see what happens to them:


The raw percentage additions since September total 4.0 percent, a 0.5 percent per month average. That said, recent months have been much slower, especially compare to last fall. I would hope we see improvements during the summer.


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