Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Retail Sales: Bifurcated Growth

Marketwatch details:

Retail sales showed decent growth in August, economic data showed Tuesday, easing fears that the U.S. economy would stall out in coming months.

Retail sales rose 0.4% on the month, the Commerce Department said. It marked the second straight increase and was the largest gain since March.
Good news... BUT, the breakdown is interesting.

The largest jumps were in gas and food purchases (due to a jump in gas prices and food in August), then some solid growth in small purchases (clothing, sporting goods, health care), followed by a a decline in credit related purchases (furniture, autos, and electronics).

One month is likely just noise, but it will be interesting to see if large credit oriented purchases, in a credit tightening environment, are on the decline to pay for smaller purchases.

Source: Census


  1. Looks like we had to drive the kids to school, stock up their dorm refrigerator, and get them a physical so they could try out for sports. We stopped and ate at a restaurant.
    Surprised by the electronics because we bought them a computer.

  2. what happened to the ikea furniture?

  3. Mish uses a separate data point (that sales tax collections are still down from peak further than this report, despite many sales tax hikes) to point out what appears to be a methodological error in this series - namely that it doesn't account for store closings, resulting in inflated sales reporting on a same-store basis even though aggregate sales is likely dropping (as indicated by the sales tax collections data).

    That seems pretty plausible to me, I must admit. I haven't seen that criticism rebutted anywhere yet, myself.

    If it's true, it would indicate that not only are retail sales still below peak, but they are likely still significantly below peak - 15-ish percent instead of 4-ish if I remember the sales tax collection figures correctly

  4. The tax data is hard to square with these numbers.

    That was maybe the ugliest game I have ever seen last night! Now I am NO Jets fan, but that running into the kicker call was piss poor.

    I think the Jets will get their stuff together for New England this weekend. Figures.

  5. Electronics are so damned cheap anyhow thanks to Moore's Law. There's only so many flat screens you can buy. The sporting/clothing look good.