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Advance Retail Sales: Record Low

Advance retail sales for the month of October declined -2.8% m/m and are down -3.3% y/y/. The core ex-autos estimate fell -2.2% m/m and is up 1.7% y/y. On a monthly basis ex-gas was down -1.5%, ex-autos and building materials have fallen -2.4%, ex-autos and gas -0.5% and ex-good service -3.1%. On a three month annualized basis sales in the retail and food service sector have fallen -10.9% with the ex-auto estimate down -7.4%.

Inside the data sales were down just about across the board. The sale of motor vehicles and parts declined -5.5%, furniture -2.5%, electronics -2.3% and clothing 1.4%. Sales at department stores dropped -1.3% and non-store retailers dropped -1.8%. Purchases at gasoline stations declined -12.7%, while that of good and beverages was flat. The only major group that saw an increase in sales for the month was the health and personal care category that increased 0.4%.

The decline in retail sales in both the headline and the core exceed the very bearish expectations of the market in just about manner possible and is the worst posting on record. It On an annual basis sales of motor vehicles and parts are down 23.3%, furniture -13.2%, electronics -5.7% and clothing -3.0%. On a three month annualized basis ex-food sales are down -12.4%. This sets the stage for what will be a sharp contraction in overall economic activity during the fourth quarter of 2008 that we think will be -4.1%. If it was not clear before in Washington that the stimulus packages that the new Administration and Congress are going to pass should be well planned, implemented efficiently and be outsized it should be now.


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