• 2 days Markets Unfazed As Inflation Hits 13-Year High
  • 2 days How the Token Economy is Disrupting Financial Markets
  • 4 days FBI Investigating 100 Types Of Ransomware Attacks
  • 6 days Fed Ends Corporate Credit Emergency Lending Program
  • 8 days AMC Becomes the Latest Winning Meme Stock After GameStop
  • 10 days The Real Reason Your 401k Has Been Lagging
  • 10 days China Lifts Cap On Births, Allows Three Children Per Couple
  • 12 days The Market Is Ripe For Another GameStop Saga
  • 15 days Senate Grills Big Banks Over Pandemic Opportunism
  • 17 days Cannabis Has A Major Cash Problem
  • 17 days Ransomware Netted Criminals $350M In 2020 Alone
  • 18 days Russia Is Taking On Google
  • 19 days Chinese Regulators Deal Another Big Blow To Bitcoin
  • 20 days Ohio Residents Brave Vaccine for Chance To Win $1M
  • 22 days Inflation Is Coming. Are You Prepared?
  • 23 days 3 World-Shaking Trends Investors Need To Watch This Year
  • 23 days Travel Might Get Another Supersonic Disruption
  • 24 days The World Is Running Out Of 6 Key Resources
  • 26 days $15/Hour Minimum Wage Might Happen Naturally
  • 27 days Money-Laundering Binance Probe Report Adds To Bitcoin Woes
Billionaires Are Pushing Art To New Limits

Billionaires Are Pushing Art To New Limits

Welcome to Art Basel: The…

How The Ultra-Wealthy Are Using Art To Dodge Taxes

How The Ultra-Wealthy Are Using Art To Dodge Taxes

More freeports open around the…

Zombie Foreclosures On The Rise In The U.S.

Zombie Foreclosures On The Rise In The U.S.

During the quarter there were…

  1. Home
  2. Markets
  3. Other

Retail Sales Down, January Sales Revised to -0.4%

There was a lot of cheering last month when retail sales rose by 0.2%.

That cheering mostly vanished into thin air today when January retail sales were revised to -0.4% and February retail sales came in at an anemic -0.1%.

Curiously Bloomberg Econoday said today's report showed "respectable strength in February."

February retail sales were inline with the Bloomberg Econoday consensus of -0.1%, but the real story was January revisions.

Consumer spending did not get off to a good start after all in 2016 as big downward revisions to January retail sales badly upstage respectable strength in February. January retail sales are now at minus 0.4 percent vs an initial gain of 0.2 percent. The two major sub-readings also show major downward revisions with ex-auto sales now down 0.4 percent vs an initial gain of 0.1 percent and ex-auto ex-gas sales now at minus 0.1 percent from plus 0.4 percent. The latest for this latter core rate is really the main positive in today's report, up a solid 0.3 percent in February. Total sales for February are weak at minus 0.1 percent as is the ex-auto reading, also at minus 0.1 percent.

But even in the core readings, details are not great with strength so far this year mixed across nearly all categories. Still, year-on-year strength is evident in two key discretionary components which are vehicles, up 6.8 percent, and restaurants which are up 6.4 percent. Non-store retailers, benefiting from growth in ecommerce, are up 6.3 percent. Sporting goods, a smaller discretionary category, are up 6.7 percent. And building materials & garden equipment, in a sign of strength for residential investment, are up 12.2 percent. The downside includes electronics & appliances which are at minus 3.2 percent and department stores down 2.2 percent. The weakest of all of course are gasoline stations, down 15.6 percent on the year as low fuel prices depress dollar sales.

Given the skewing effect of gasoline, the ex-gas total is important to look at it and it's up 0.2 percent in the month for very respectable yearly growth of 4.8 percent. This reading underscores the silver lining in the report, that retail sales, despite all the negatives, are moving in the right direction. January and February are the lowest sales months of the year, a fact that magnifies adjustment effects and can cause volatility in the readings. But that aside, consumer spending, despite high employment, is struggling to break out of a flat run that included a very soft holiday season.


Respectable Strength?

Retail Sales

It's amusing watching Econoday attempt to spin every conceivable thing positive. Somehow, retail sales at -0.1% on top of a huge downward revision is allegedly indicative of "respectable strength in February".

Reader Tim Wallace pinged me with this pertinent comment: "Down 0.1% in January means February retail sales were actually down 0.7% from January's initially reported number."

Respectable Not!

 

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment