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Retail Spending

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Retail Spending Picked Up in June

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The Census Bureau said that retail sales picked up in June, increasing by 0.6 percent and rising for the third straight month. Spending rose by 2.0 percent in the second quarter, a nice improvement from being down 0.6 percent in the first quarter. This suggests that Americans were more willing to open their pocketbooks in recent months – progress after a more cautious stance at the end of last year and earlier this year. Retail sales have increased by 2.7 percent over the past 12 months, up from 2.2 percent in the prior report. Moreover, reduced gasoline prices (down 9.6 percent year-over-year) pulled the headline number lower. Excluding gasoline, retail sales were up 3.9 percent year-over-year, suggesting that consumers have increased their purchases have risen at a fairly decent pace over the past year. Read More

retail sales

Retail Spending Increased in May, Extending the Rebound Seen in April

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The Census Bureau said that retail sales increased by 0.5 percent, stronger than expected, extending the 1.3 percent rebound seen in April. This suggests that Americans have begun to open their pocketbooks in the second quarter, following a more-cautious stance at the end of last year and in the first quarter. Retail spending has increased modestly over the past 12 months, up 2.5 percent since May 2015. Moreover, reduced gasoline prices (down 9.5 percent year-over-year) pulled the headline number lower. Excluding gasoline, retail sales were up 3.7 percent year-over-year, suggesting that consumers have increased their purchases have risen at a fairly decent pace over the past year. With that said, retail sales excluding gasoline stations have eased somewhat in recent months, down from 4.5 percent year-over-year in December. Read More

retail

Retail Sales Rebounded in April

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The Census Bureau said that retail sales rose 1.3 percent in April, rebounding from a decline of 0.3 percent. Much of that improvement stemmed from better motor vehicles and parts sales, up 3.2 percent and offsetting the 3.2 percent decrease in the prior report. Other sectors with increased sales in April included gasoline stations (up 2.2 percent), nonstore retailers (up 2.1 percent), miscellaneous store retailers (up 1.5 percent), food and beverage stores (up 0.9 percent), health and personal care stores (up 0.9 percent) and furniture and home furnishings stores (up 0.7 percent), among others. The segment with reduced sales in April was building materials and garden supplies, down 1.0 percent.

Overall, consumers continue to spend modestly, with retail spending up 3.0 percent over the past 12 months. That is a decent pace, even if there remains a sense that the public might be holding back from even stronger spending. The year-over-year rate in February, for instance, was 3.6 percent.

It is also important to recognize the impact that lower gasoline prices have had on the data. Reduced prices have decreased gasoline station sales by 9.4 percent. Excluding gasoline stations, retail sales were up 4.1 percent year-over-year. As such, spending is perhaps better than the headline number suggests.

retail

Reduced Auto Sales in March Pulled Retail Spending Lower

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The Census Bureau said that retail sales declined by 0.3 percent in March, declining for the second time in the past three months. As a result, retail spending decreased by 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2016, down from $449.7 billion in December to $446.9 billion in March. This suggests that consumer spending will not be the boost to real GDP that we saw in the fourth quarter, and it is yet another sign that Americans might be holding back a little in their purchases in light of recent economic anxieties. Along those lines, the year-over-year growth rate for retail sales fell from 3.7 percent in February to 1.7 percent in March. Read More

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Retail Spending Declined in February for the Second Straight Month, Led by Gasoline Station Sales

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The Census Bureau said that retail sales declined by 0.1 percent in February, but perhaps more importantly, it also reported that spending fell 0.4 percent in January. It was originally reported to be a gain of 0.2 percent. On the surface, this release indicates softer-than-desired spending so far in 2016. Yet, the year-over-year pace remains decent, up a modest 3.1 percent since February 2015.

To more fully understand these data, however, it is important to dig a little deeper. Much of the decline over the past two months has stemmed from reduced gasoline prices. Indeed, the average price of regular conventional gasoline, according to the Energy Information Administration, fell from $1.93 per gallon the last week of December to a seven-year low of $1.64 a gallon in mid-February. Along those lines, gasoline station sales – which are reported in nominal dollars – fell 3.3 percent and 4.4 percent in January and February, respectively. Excluding gasoline station sales, retail spending rose 0.2 percent in February, and on a year-over-year basis, that figure was 4.8 percent. That suggests a much healthier pace of consumer spending than the headline number might indicate. Read More

Growth in Retail Sales Slowed in August

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The Census Bureau said that retail sales rose 0.2 percent in August, slowing from the 0.7 percent growth rate seen in July. It was the fourth increase in the past six months (with the other two being unchanged), as consumer spending has rebounded somewhat from softness earlier in the year. The year-over-year pace has improved from a disappointing 1.3 percent pace in April to 2.2 percent in August; although, that was down from 2.6 percent in the prior report. Nonetheless, the public remains cautious in their willingness to open their pocketbooks. As an illustration of that point, retail sales growth was 4.9 percent year-over-year twelve months ago, or almost double the current pace. Read More

Retail Sales Bounced Back in July after Being Unchanged in June

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The Census Bureau said that retail sales increased 0.6 percent in July, bouncing back from being unchanged in June. The prior month’s softness had been unexpected, making the rebound in July more welcome. The year-over-year pace improved from a disappointing 1.3 percent pace in April to 2.4 percent in July. Needless to say, even that modest rate of consumer spending suggests that the public remains somewhat cautious in their willingness to open their pocketbooks. As an illustration of that point, retail sales growth was 4.7 percent year-over-year in November, or almost double the current pace. Read More

Retail Sales Pulled Back Again in June

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The Census Bureau said that retail sales fell by 0.3 percent in June, pulling back from the 1.0 percent gain seen in May. The decline was unexpected, with a consensus anticipation of a slight increase. It was the first decrease in retail spending since February, and it suggests that the public continues to remain somewhat cautious in their willingness to open their pocketbooks. The year-over-year pace was a disappointing 1.4 percent, down from 2.3 percent in May and well below the 4.7 percent rate observed in November. Read More

Retail Sales Increased 1.2 Percent in May, Bouncing Back from a Softer April

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The Census Bureau said that retail sales increased 1.2 percent in May, bouncing back from a softer April, where spending rose just 0.2 percent. On a year-over-year basis, consumers spent 2.7 percent more today than 12 months ago, a modest gain that represents a notable improvement from the 1.5 percent pace in the prior report. Still, these data continue to reflect the softer economic environment seen so far in 2015, with the year-over-year pace down from 4.7 percent in November.

With that said, these data have been skewed by changes in gasoline prices over the past year. Lower prices have resulted in a drop in sales, which are expressed in nominal terms, of 18.6 percent since May 2014. Retail spending excluding gasoline station sales was up 5.2 percent year-over-year in May, up from 4.3 percent in April. This suggests a stronger pace of overall consumer spending than the headline figure might indicate. Read More

Consumers Remained Cautious in their Spending in April

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Consumers remained cautious in their spending in April, according to the Census Bureau. Retail sales were unchanged for the month, softening from the rebound seen in March. Overall, spending has decelerated significantly over the past few months, down from a year-over-year rate of 4.7 percent in November to just 0.9 percent in April.

With that said, the longer-term view is perhaps more encouraging than the headline number might suggest. Total retail spending includes gasoline station sales, which have fallen 22.0 percent since April 2014 on lower prices. Excluding gasoline stations, retail sales grew 3.6 percent year-over-year. This suggests modest growth in the broader retail market over the past 12 months. Still, this figure has also eased recently, down from 5.8 percent year-over-year in November. Read More