Retail Sales: December Growth Improvement

The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for December released this morning showed growth improvement over the November increase. Headline sales came in at 0.6% month-over-month to one decimal, and November number was revised upward from 0.1% to 0.2%. Today's headline number was slightly below the optimistic Investing.com consensus of 0.7%. Core sales (ex Autos) came in at 0.2% MoM, which was below the Investing.com consensus of 0.5%, but the October Core was revised upward from 0.2% to 0.3%.

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for December 2016, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $469.1 billion, an increase of 0.6 percent (±0.5 percent) from the previous month, and 4.1 percent (±0.9 percent) above December 2015. Total sales for the 12 months of 2016 were up 3.3 percent (±0.6 percent) from 2015. Total sales for the October 2016 through December 2016 period were up 4.1 percent (±0.7 percent) from the same period a year ago. The October 2016 to November 2016 percent change was revised from up 0.1 percent (±0.5 percent)* to up 0.2 percent (±0.2 percent)*.

Retail trade sales were up 0.8 percent (±0.5 percent) from November 2016, and up 4.3 percent (±0.7 percent) from last year. Nonstore retailers were up 13.2 percent (±1.8 percent) from December 2015, while Miscellaneous stores were up 7.1 percent (±4.6 percent) from last year. [view full report]

The chart below is a log-scale snapshot of retail sales since the early 1990s. The two exponential regressions through the data help us to evaluate the long-term trend of this key economic indicator.

Retail Sales Trends

The year-over-year percent change provides another perspective on the historical trend. Here is the headline series.

Retail Sales YoY

Core Sales

Here is the year-over-year version of Core Retail Sales.

Core Retail Sales YoY