December Advance Retail Sales Beat Expectations

Includes: PMR, RETL, RTH, XRT
by: Doug Short

The Advance Retail Sales Report released this morning shows that sales in December came in at 0.2% month-over-month, a decline from November's 0.4% (a downward revision from 0.7%). Today's headline number came slightly above the forecast of a 0.1% gain. Core Retail Sales (which excludes autos) were up 0.7%. That was an improvement from last month's 0.1% (a downward revision from 0.4%) and better than the forecast of 0.4%.

The first chart below is a long-scale snapshot of retail sales since the early 1990s. I've included an inset to show the trend in this indicator over the past several months.

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Here is the Core version, which excludes autos.

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Here is a year-over-year snapshot of overall series. Here we can see that the YoY series is off its peak in June of 2011 and has been relatively range-bound since April of last year.

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Here is the year-over-year performance of at Core Retail Sales.

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Here is an overlay of Headline and Core Sales since 2000.

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After the November Consumer Price Index is released next Tuesday, we'll take a more detailed look at retail sales adjusted both for inflation and population growth.

Bottom Line: The advance retail sales, both headline and core, came in better than expected. However, the year-over-year trend for both has been weakening since mid-2011.