March Retail Sales: Nearly a Full Stop

by: Karl Denninger

Eh......

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for March, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $389.3 billion, an increase of 0.4 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month, and 7.1 percent (±0.7%) above March 2010. Total sales for the January through March 2011 period were up 8.1 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The January to February 2011 percent change was revised from +1.0 percent (±0.5%) to +1.1 percent (±0.2%).

That ain't good and is essentially a full-stop from the previous two months. Where's the problem? Right here - and this is only the beginning of it.

Gasoline stations sales were up 16.7 percent (±1.7%) from March 2010

That's not fully into the market in this report either. Yuck.

The softness from energy prices was pretty much everywhere on a monthly basis, and while it certainly hit vehicles, it wasn't confined there. The premise that somehow "higher oil and gasoline prices won't hurt the economy", which many people have spouted in the mainstream media over the last two months, should now be able to be put to rest. The data is what it is: retail sales are being hit in direct proportion to the ramp in gas prices.