Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Real Retail Sales Ex Autos and Gas Makes New High

Bloomberg details the latest retail sales:

U.S. retail sales rose in November at the slowest pace in five months, indicating faster job growth may be needed to spark the biggest part of the economy.
The 0.2 percent gain in sales followed a 0.6 percent advance in October that was more than initially reported, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Economists projected a 0.6 percent November increase, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.
It is important to remember that retail sales figures are nominal (i.e. they include inflation), thus any decline in the price of goods would make this figure appear lower. As a result, November likely understates retail sales as gasoline fell abruptly during the month (chart here). However, (sorry if this becomes confusing) if gasoline sales are understated... that means retail sales ex gasoline are overstated (all else equal).

Longer term, we are still making slow progress, but we have passed an important milestone. By my calculation (backing out BLS inflation figures for each of the below components), we have now made a new high in terms of real (i.e. after inflation) retail sales less autos and gasoline.

In other words, we're still purchasing a heck of a lot of stuff.

Source: Census / BLS