Thursday, February 12, 2009

Retail Sales Increase Slightly in January

by Bill McBride on 2/12/2009 08:30:00 AM

On a monthly basis, retail sales increased slightly from December to January (seasonally adjusted), but sales are off 10.6% from January 2008 (retail and food services decreased 9.7%).

The following graph shows the year-over-year change in nominal and real retail sales since 1993.

Year-over-year change in Retail Sales Click on graph for larger image in new window.

To calculate the real change, the monthly PCE price index from the BEA was used (January PCE prices were estimated as the same as December).

Although the Census Bureau reported that nominal retail sales decreased 10.6% year-over-year (retail and food services decreased 9.7%), real retail sales declined by 10.9% (on a YoY basis). The YoY change decreased slightly from last month.

There is the Census Bureau report:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $344.6 billion, an increase of 1.0 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, but 9.7 percent (±0.7%) below January 2008. Total sales for the November 2008 through January 2009 period were down 9.5 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The November to December 2008 percent change was revised from –2.7 percent (±0.5%) to –3.0 percent (±0.2%).
One month does not make a trend change, and January retail sales are still over 2% below sales in Q4 - suggesting a further decline in Q1 PCE.