Thursday, January 14, 2010

Retail Sales Disappoint

WSJ reports:

U.S. retail sales fell in December unexpectedly, signaling restraint by consumers during the holidays as the economy wrestles with high unemployment.

Retail sales declined 0.3%, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires forecast a 0.5% increase. November sales, however, were adjusted upward, to a 1.8% increase from a previously reported 1.3% gain. October sales also rose strongly, up 1.2%.

Excluding the car sector, all other retail sales in December fell 0.2%. Economists expected a 0.3% increase. The numbers were a disappointment for the economic recovery. The retail sales data are an important indicator of consumer spending. Consumer spending makes up 70% of GDP, which is the broad measure of U.S. economic activity. Thursday's report suggests high joblessness is restraining consumers and will mute the recovery.

Forget about the overall total and look at the details. Driving more than half the contribution was an increase in the sale of gasoline (driven by the jump in the price of gasoline).

Source: Census


  1. Fascinating - this would be really interesting to see the YoY changes of sale x gas vs. sales, wouldn't it?

  2. year over year xgas follows the same path, but just not as large a sell off (when oil prices collapsed) and not as large a recovery (when oil prices rebounded).

  3. r u sure?

    From St. Louis Fred series RSAFS, the symbol for retail sales data reported this morning:

    2008-11-01 345175
    2008-12-01 335016
    2009-01-01 342017
    2009-02-01 343438
    2009-03-01 339228
    2009-04-01 338344
    2009-05-01 339873
    2009-06-01 342912
    2009-07-01 342489
    2009-08-01 350800
    2009-09-01 343687
    2009-10-01 347641
    2009-11-01 353951
    2009-12-01 352985

    numbers don't look real bad at all...