Although retail sales surprised to the upside for November, according to today’s US Census Bureau report, sales for the September to November timeframe are down 2.1 percent over the same period in 2008.
The 2009 adjusted numbers for November show gains over October numbers in all retail categories except furniture and clothing. Sales at general merchandise stores, such as WalMart (WMT), and nonstore retailers, such as mail order, also showed gains, but sales at other retail stores fell.
The unadjusted numbers tell a bleaker story. Compared to the 2008 Sept-Nov timeframe, retail sales decreased in all categories except health/personal care and food services, showing double-digit declines in motor vehicles, furniture, building materials, and gasoline stations.
The U.S census bureau survey adjusts figures for seasonal variations but not for price changes.
Disclosure: Long XRT, WMT