Retail Sales: December Numbers Are a Huge Disappointment
January 15, 2016
by Doug Short
The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report released this morning shows that seasonally adjusted sales in December decreased 0.1% month-over-month and are up 2.2% year-over-year. Core Retail Sales (ex Autos) also declined 0.1% MoM and are up only 1.2% YoY
The Investing.com forecasts were 0.1% for Headline and 0.2% for Core Sales.
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.
The year-over-year percent change provides another perspective on the historical trend. Here is the headline series.
Here is the year-over-year version of Core Retail Sales.
Retail Sales: "Control" Purchases
The next two charts illustrate retail sales "Control" purchases, which is an even more "Core" view of retail sales. This series excludes Motor Vehicles & Parts, Gasoline, Building Materials as well as Food Services & Drinking Places.
Here is the same series year-over-year. Note the highlighted values at the start of the two recessions since the inception of this series in the early 1990s.
For a better sense of the reduced volatility of the "Control" series, here is a YoY overlay with the headline retail sales.
Bottom Line: The holiday season December Retail Sales were a huge disappointment, and YoY Core Retail Sales and Control Sales are lower than they were at the start of the last two recessions. When the December Consumer Price Index is released next week, we'll take a look Real Retail Sales.