Retail Sales: Better Than Expected
The Advance Retail Sales Report released this morning shows that sales in April came in at 0.1% month-over-month, a strong improvement over the downwardly revised -0.5% in March. Today's headline number came in above the Briefing.com consensus forecast of -0.3%. Cheaper gasoline prices gave a boost to Retail Sales ex Gas to the tune of 0.7%, up from -0.1% last month.
The first chart below is a log-scale snapshot of retail sales since the early 1990s. I've included an inset to show the trend in this indicator over the past several months.
Here is a year-over-year snapshot of the same series. Here we can see that, despite the upward trend since the middle of last year, the YoY series has been slowing since its peak in June of 2011.
After the May Consumer Price Index is released on Thursday, we'll take a more detailed look at retail sales adjusted both for inflation and population growth.
Bottom Line: Although retail sales came in better than expected, the trend has been slowing month-over-month, and the year-over-year trend has been one of broad decline for the past 21 months.