Thursday, June 11, 2009

Retail Sales in May: Off 10.8% from May 2008

by Bill McBride on 6/11/2009 08:31:00 AM

On a monthly basis, retail sales increased 0.5% from April to May (seasonally adjusted), and sales are off 10.8% from May 2008 (retail and food services decreased 9.6%). Much of the increase was due to higher gas prices.

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 (May PCE prices were estimated as the average increase over the previous 3 months).

The Census Bureau reported that nominal retail sales decreased 10.8% year-over-year (retail and food services decreased 10.1%), and real retail sales also declined by 10.8% on a YoY basis.

Real Retail Sales

The second graph shows real retail sales (adjusted with PCE) since 1992. This is monthly retail sales, seasonally adjusted.

NOTE: The graph doesn't start at zero to better show the change.

This shows that retail sales fell off a cliff in late 2008, and may have bottomed at a much lower level.

Here is the Census Bureau report:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $340.0 billion, an increase of 0.5 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month, but 9.6 percent (±0.7%) below May 2008. Total sales for the March through May 2009 period were down 9.7 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The March to April 2009 percent change was revised from -0.4 percent (±0.5%)* to -0.2 percent (±0.2%)*.

Retail trade sales were up 0.5 percent (±0.7%)* from April 2009, but 10.8 percent (±0.7%) below last year. Gasoline stations sales were down 33.8 percent (±1.5%) from May 2008 and motor vehicle and parts dealers sales were down 19.6 percent (±2.3%) from last year.
Maybe the cliff diving is over, but no green shoots ....

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