Doug Short: The Census Bureau’s Advance Retail Sales Report released this morning shows that the seasonally adjusted sales series increased in May. Headline sales came in at 0.5% month-over-month, which was above the 0.3% increase forecast by Investing.com. Headline sales are up 2.5% year-over-year. Core Retail Sales (ex Autos) came in at 0.4% MoM, matching the Investing.com forecast.
Here is the introduction from today’s report:
The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $455.6 billion, an increase of 0.5 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month, and 2.5 percent (±0.7%) above May 2015. Total sales for the March 2016 through May 2016 period were up 2.4 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The March 2016 to April 2016 percent change was unrevised at up 1.3 percent (±0.2%).
Retail trade sales were up 0.4 percent (±0.5%)* from April 2016, and up 2.0 percent (±0.5%) from last year. Nonstore retailers were up 12.2 percent (±1.2%) from May 2015, while Health and Personal Care Stores were up 8.3 percent (±2.1%) 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 a more consistent and reliable reading of the economy.
Here is the same series year-over-year. Note that the current level is fractionally below the highlighted values at the start of the two 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.