The Census Bureau said that retail sales accelerated in December, finishing 2016 on a strong note. Spending at retailers grew 0.6 percent in December, increasing for the fourth straight month. In the fourth quarter alone, retail sales rose 1.5 percent, illustrating once again that Americans continued to increase their spending at year’s end after being rather cautious in their purchases earlier in the year. Over the past 12 months, retail sales have risen 4.1 percent. That represents a healthy rebound from the 1.7 percent pace observed in March. With that said, healthy sales gains at motor vehicle and parts dealers (up 2.4 percent) helped to boost the December headline number. Excluding automobiles, retail spending increased by a more modest 0.2 percent, with year-over-year growth of 3.4 percent. Read More
The Census Bureau reported that retail sales pulled back in November from the strong gain in October. Americans increased their retail spending by 0.1 percent in November, off from the consensus estimate of 0.3 percent and down from the 0.6 percent gain in October. This was softer than desired, largely due to weakness in the motor vehicle and parts segment, which declined 0.5 percent for the month. Excluding automobiles, retail sales increased 0.2 percent. Even with a less-than-stellar figure in this latest release, Americans have continued to increase their spending relative to the more cautious approach to purchases earlier in the year. Over the past 12 months, retail sales have risen 3.8 percent. That represents a healthy rebound from the 1.7 percent pace in March. Still, it was down from 4.2 percent in October, which had been the fastest year-over-year rate in nearly two years. Read More
The Census Bureau said that retail sales rose strongly, up 0.8 percent in October and extending the 1.0 percent gain seen in September. This suggests that Americans have opened their pocketbooks in a big way in the autumn months, and it serves as a stark contract to the more-cautious approach to purchases seen earlier in the year. More importantly, the accelerated pace of spending is good news for retailers – and by extension, manufacturers – headed into the all-important holiday season. The year-over-year data help to put an explanation point on this. Retail spending has risen 4.2 percent over the past 12 months, a healthy rebound from the 1.7 percent pace observed in March. It was also the fastest year-over-year rate of growth since November 2014, or nearly two years. Read More
The Census Bureau said that retail sales rebounded in September, up 0.6 percent, after declining by 0.2 percent in August. This suggests that the public has begun opening their pocketbook after pulling back somewhat in the prior two months. In addition, Americans seem to be less cautious in their purchases than they were earlier in the year. Retail spending has risen 2.7 percent over the past 12 months, a nice improvement from the 1.7 percent pace observed in March. This data includes gasoline station sales, which have fallen 3.4 percent since September 2015. Excluding gasoline, retail sales were up 3.2 percent year-over-year. Read More
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
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
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.
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
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
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