Monday, April 16, 2012

Strong retail sales



No matter how you look at the numbers, retail sales continue to rise at an impressive rate; there is absolutely no sign of any weakness here. March sales were up much more than expected, and they have posted a 6.5% gain over the past year. The top chart shows the retail sales "control group," which subtracts autos, building materials, and gasoline: it is up 5% in the past year, and is up by an even stronger 8% annualized over the past three months. The bottom chart looks at total retail sales adjusted for inflation; this measure is up 4% over the past year and has now reached a post-recession high.

Very impressive gains here, especially considering there are some 5 million fewer people working today than at the peak of the last business cycle. I'm not worried that the U.S. economy is vulnerable to a slowdown.

20 comments:

Rob said...

But is it vulnerable to the European meltdown ?

Dr William J McKibbin said...

Impressive, agreed.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Withholding tax receipts are up 5.85% y-o-y above the comparable weeks last year for the past 5 weeks, and up 6.57% the past 4 weeks. These are very good numbers, and is easily the strongest showing for a BLS reporting period this year.

If auto sales come in close to or above 15 million SAAR this month, expect a very good April jobs report.

Benjamin said...

Nice blogging, solid all the way through. I hope retail is indicative of the larger economy. Some indicators look shaky lately.

RichmondG30 said...

I know we're all looking for good news, but why no comments on the disastrous Empire State Manufacturing Index that was also released today. As the owner of a small manufacturing company who has seen a marked slowdown in recent weeks, I am gravely concerned about this news.

marcusbalbus said...

you always use semi log but never explain why

Mezzoduomo said...

I like seeing this number accelerate! Now: Howe about a comment on Apple's swoon?

sturdeebeggar said...

Agreed. This is great for now. However the twin hurdles that will be encountered to slow this growth rate will be the expiring Bush tax cuts and the increased tax hit to pay for Osama Care.

Bill said...

The Empire State Index is very volatile and not relied upon by many economists. That said, some aspects of the index were positive (including the headline number which still shows growth) and the futures expectation component was quite positive. The ISM is much more important. If that shows a lot of weakness over a period of time then I'd be more worried.

Scott Grannis said...

Re my use of semi-log scales. I find these very useful because the slope of a line plotted on a semi-log scale is equal to the rate of increase. So the straight line rise in real retail sales on this chart tells you quickly that the rate of growth has been relatively constant since the end of the recession.

Donny Baseball said...

Great stuff Scott! On another note, a very sad day today for average Argentinians as their government has descended down one more ring in Christina's Peronist hell. Maybe two rings. If you had to imagine the worst stunt that she could pull, you'd come up with the expropriation of a company like YPF.

So sad.

Scott Grannis said...

Donny: Indeed very sad about Argentina. This is like a watching a slow-motion train wreck. It can only end badly, and of course those who will suffer the most are the poor and middle class.

My friends in Argentina tell me that Cristina Kirchner is so bad that they are missing her husband Nestor (who was pretty bad himself).

We will be in Argentina Thursday morning and I hope to have more color to add.

Hans said...

The saving rate has all but collapsed; going from 8 to 3%..

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2012/04/real-consumer-credit-story-virtually-no.html

Is it any wonder that Argentina is so close to the South Pole...

Its biggest export is soccer and a few head of cows...

Donny Baseball said...

Hans-
Last I checked Argentina exported a helluva lot of soybeans and grain. In fact, Argentine farmers "save" in terms of soybeans. Paper money can be counted on to lose value, so they store up soybeans, which keep for a relatively long period, and when they need a little liquidity, they sell some. This is how they preserve their purchasing power.

Hans said...

DO NOT TRUST the economic reports coming from the Federal government.

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2012/04/trimtabs-blasts-retail-sales-report.html

Hans said...

Good point, Baseball, as their farmers prosper due to high comod prices...

It is such a beautiful and God blessed nation, which manages to soil itself on an annual bases...

It is just more proof that socialism is a verifiable human disorder and needs to be humanly treated...

terex said...
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terex said...

Hi Scott,

What do you say about Bidermans's view on this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzBrJQK010Q&feature=digest_tue

Hans said...

It is beyond laughable how the Census Bureau collects this information...

Paper ballets and only 5000 businesses in this projected survey?

Why is the Department of Census collecting business data in the first place?