By Jill Mislinski
The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for May was released June 14 morning. Headline sales came in at 0.55% month-over-month to one decimal and was worse than the Investing.com forecast of 0.7%. Core sales (ex Autos) came in at 0.50% MoM (to two decimals).
Here is the introduction from today's report:
Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May 2019, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $519.0 billion, an increase of 0.5 percent (±0.5 percent)* from the previous month, and 3.2 percent (±0.7 percent) above May 2018. Total sales for the March 2019 through May 2019 period were up 3.6 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The March 2019 to April 2019 percent change was revised from down 0.2 percent (±0.5 percent)* to up 0.3 percent (±0.1 percent).
Retail trade sales were up 0.5 percent (±0.5 percent)* from April 2019, and 3.1 percent (±0.7 percent) above last year. Nonstore retailers were up 11.4 percent (±1.4 percent) from May 2018, while sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, and book stores were down 4.2 percent (±2.5 percent) from last year. [view full report]
The chart below is a log-scale snapshot of retail sales since the early 1990s. The two exponential regressions through the data help us to evaluate the long-term trend of this key economic indicator.
The year-over-year percent change provides another perspective on the historical trend. Here is the headline series.
Here is the year-over-year version of Core Retail Sales.
The next two charts illustrate retail sales "Control" purchases, which is an even more "Core" view of retail sales. This series excludes Motor Vehicles & Parts, Gasoline, Building Materials as well as Food Services & Drinking Places. The popular financial press typically ignores this series, but it is a more consistent and reliable reading of the economy.
Here is the same series year-over-year. Note that the current level is above both highlighted values at the start of recessions since the inception of this series in the early 1990s.
For a better sense of the reduced volatility of the "Control" series, here is a YoY overlay with the headline retail sales.
Bottom Line: May sales showed an increase month over month, but were worse than forecasts. When FRED publishes their data, we'll take a closer look at Real Retail Sales.
Editor's Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.