Questioning November's Retail Numbers

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With our earlier look at Inflation-free CPI out of the way, let's have a gander at Retail Sales. Did they really increase 1% in November? Bond Dad raises some further questions: 

Let's start with the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubihi's Chain Store Sales Report. According to this survey, the seasonally adjusted month-to-month percent change in same store sales was -1%. October's number was slightly better at a -.6% drop. The year-over-year percent change in the number was 2.1%, which was the lowest reading of 2006 except for March when the number was 2% . . .

The Census data says that "Building material & garden eq. & supplies dealers" increased from (in millions) $29,289 to $29,817 The BTM survey says home supply sales sales decreased 15.7%. It's also important to remember the housing market is in a slump right now. Sales are down, inventory is up. Is this a real estate market where building materials and supplies sales will increase 1.8%?

According to the census data, car sales increased from (in millions) $77,197 to $77,906. This data is not seasonally adjusted. However, according to motor intelligence, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of US car sales decreased from 16.16 million in October to 16.04 million in November. This is the lowest seasonally adjusted annual rate for car sales this year.

In November WalMart reported their November sales decreased .1%, the first drop since April 1996. Other retailers showed increases. However, Wal-Mart is far bigger than their competitors.

So, while the Census data says retail sales increased at a high rate in November, all other surveys say sales of various retail sales components decreased. There is an important difference in methodology in the other reports because they are seasonally adjusted. However, using the old Sesame Street game "One of these things is not like the other one" we come to the conclusion the Census will probably lower their numbers for November. (emphasis added)

That's a very straight forward explanation as to why the reported Retail Sales Data is bogus. (And it doesn't even make mention of the Commerce Department's change in their sample group we discussed previously).


Did Retail Sales Really Increase 1% in November?
The Bonddad Blog
Saturday, December 16, 2006