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Today's report on US retail sales for March is projected to show a 0.2% gain for the month, according to The Capital Spectator's average econometric forecast. That's sharply lower than the 1.1% gain reported by the Census Bureau for February. Meanwhile, the Capital Spectator's March projection is moderately above the range of consensus forecasts for several surveys of economists.

Here's a closer look at the numbers, followed by brief definitions of the methodologies behind The Capital Spectator's projections:

R-2: A linear regression model that analyzes two data series in context with retail sales: an index of weekly hours worked for production/nonsupervisory employees in private industries and the stock market (S&P 500). The historical relationship between the variables is applied to the more recently updated data to project retail sales. The computations are run in R.

ARIMA: An autoregressive integrated moving average model that analyzes the historical record of retail sales in R via the "forecast" package.

ES: An exponential smoothing model that analyzes the historical record of retail sales in R via the "forecast" package.

VAR-6: A vector autoregression model that analyzes six time series in context with retail sales. The six additional series: US private payrolls, industrial production, index of weekly hours worked for production/nonsupervisory employees in private industries, the stock market (S&P 500), disposable personal income, and personal consumption expenditures. The forecasts are calculated in R with the "vars" package.

Source: U.S. Retail Sales: March 2013 Preview