Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Retail Sales: Small Purchases Up. Large Purchases Down.

The WSJ details:

U.S. retail sales tumbled a second straight time in June, falling more than expected in a sign consumer spending is slowing and draining steam from an economy saddled with high joblessness. Sales decreased 0.5%, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a 0.3% decline.

The report was mixed, with some merchants reporting increases and others recording decreases. Excluding auto and gas sales, retail sales rose 0.1%. The bigger-than-expected drop in the headline number followed an upwardly revised 1.1% drop in May. Originally, May sales were estimated falling 1.2%.

Retail sales is a pivotal indicator of consumer spending, which makes up much of economic activity in the U.S. The second decline in a row dealt a blow to an economy with an unemployment rate of 9.5%, and will increase concerns about the recovery.
Looking at the components of the release, we see an interesting bifurcation...

Down were:
  • Autos (data which was already available comparing the strength in June to May)
  • Gas (a function of the decline in the price of oil)
  • Furniture / building materials (crash in new home sales)
  • Sporting Goods (no clue)
Up were "smaller" consumer goods purchases:
  • Electronics (iPhone?)
  • Clothing
  • Health stores
  • Restaurants (a good sign?)

Source: Census


  1. This is a fantastic blog you have. Keep it up, I'm now a subscriber.

  2. If you dramatically increase taxes on the wealthy an corporations and dramatically decrease it on the middle-class, demand will rise and companies will have to produce more to meet the demand or face competition. It's called demand-side economics and could really work.

    The super-wealthy simply can't spend all of the money they have (see comments by Warren Buffet). If that money were transferred to the majority of people in small amounts, it would get spent on home improvements, new cars, and other products that would boost economic activity.

    Business, even with a higher and more equitable tax burden, would have to increase their production in order to meet the increased demand OR face competition from other actors willing to fill the gap. In addition, higher tax revenues would allow governments to pay for what they do without over-relying on the over-squeezed and quickly shrinking middle-class.

    30-years of "tax reform" and "supply-side economics" has bankrupted the US. Isn't it time we throw out these tired and failed ways and try something new? It could hardly be worse than what we have now.

    At the very least companies would have less capital to invest in China and India and the destruction of our standard-of-living.

  3. I had to buy two tickets to the film "Eclipse" or my wife was going to leave me, where is the chart for forced purchases under duress?

  4. Team "hope aliens invade and kill all the vamps and werewolves".