Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Retail Sales increase in August

by Bill McBride on 9/15/2009 08:30:00 AM

On a monthly basis, retail sales increased 2.7% from July to August (seasonally adjusted), and sales are off 5.3% from August 2008 (retail ex food services decreased 6.3%).

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales were up 1.1%.

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 core PCI price index from the BLS was used (August prices were estimated as the average increase over the previous 3 months).

Real retail sales (ex food services) declined by 6.3% on a YoY basis.

Real Retail SalesThe 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 appear to have bottomed, but 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 August, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $351.4 billion, an increase of 2.7 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, but 5.3 percent (±0.7%) below August 2008. Total sales for the June through August 2009 period were down 7.6 percent (±0.3%) from the same period a year ago. The June to July 2009 percent change was revised from -0.1 percent (±0.5%)* to -0.2 percent (±0.2%)*.
It appears the cliff diving is over and the official recession probably ended in July. But retail sales are still far below the pre-recession level, and the recovery will probably be sluggish.

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